Washington County authorities plan to charge victim's ex-boyfriend
May 14, 2010 4:00 AM
A team of forensics experts, with the Pennsylvania State Police, look over evidence on Spruce Street in Ellsworth.
By Moriah Balingit and Torsten Ove Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Authorities in Washington County said they planned to file homicide charges against a suspect who was being questioned about the discovery of the bodies of a man and a woman that were found shot to death Thursday morning in a car on a remote road in Fallowfield.
Police found the woman's body in the back seat of a car and later found the man's body in the trunk of the car.
Police identified the victim found in the trunk as Ernest Yarbough, 31, of the Pittsburgh area.
The woman was identified as Lynna Flippen, 25, of Ellsworth.
Mr. Yarbough owned the car the two were found in.
Early today, police identified the suspect they were questioning as Terrence Graham, Ms. Flippen's former boyfriend and the subject of a long-running custody dispute involving Ms. Flippen's 4-year-old son, Esau. Komron J. Makoon, an attorney for Mr. Graham, confirmed that his client was being questioned by police.
Ms. Flippen had called 911 earlier in the morning from her home on Spruce Street in Ellsworth. She told police at 4:49 a.m. there was "a problem" in the house. State troopers arrived 12 to 15 minutes later and found a trail of blood, but said the house was empty.
Neighbors said they had not heard anything.
Several hours later, around 7:30 a.m., Vincent Varrone said he was taking a walk on Butsko Road, a remote country road in Fallowfield, when he spotted a white car on the side of the road. There was blood on the ground near the car and inside on the back seat, he saw the bloody body of a naked woman.
"I've never seen somebody so butchered up. I knew she was dead," said Mr. Varrone, who lives in a trailer about a 100 yards away from where he made the gruesome discovery.
Mr. Varrone called 911, and police arrived to process the crime scene. The car was taken to the state police barracks in Washington, where, Mr. Toprani said, the man's body was found in the trunk. He was later identified as Mr. Yarbough.
Relatives said Ms. Flippen, had been involved in a custody dispute over her 4-year-old son with the boy's father, Mr. Graham, and had also filed several requests for a protection from abuse order. A cousin, however, said Ms. Flippen was supposed to have a date last night with a different man.
Nakia Carter, who identified herself as Ms. Flippen's cousin, said Ms. Flippen left her son, Esau, with Ms. Carter last night so she could go on a date with a man from Pittsburgh.
According to court records, Ms. Flippen and Mr. Graham have been embroiled in domestic squabbles since at least 2007, when Ms. Flippen first filed a protection from abuse order against him while they were living in Ellsworth with Esau, who was then 1 year old.
In July 2007, Ms. Flippen said Mr. Graham had blackened her eyes and hit her several times. She also complained that he drank and badgered her constantly, saying she was "stupid and fat."
"I can't take it anymore," she wrote in the order.
The temporary PFA was granted, and Mr. Graham was evicted from their rented home on South Pine Street in Ellsworth. That PFA was withdrawn in August 2007, after she filed a motion to dismiss.
The couple moved to 4 Lane St., Bentleyville. In October 2007, Ms. Flippen filed a new PFA complaint, saying that Mr. Graham came home on Oct. 14, 2007, drunk and threw a coffee table at her and smashed the phone when she tried to call police.
"I thought that night would be my last night," Ms. Flippen wrote. She also said he bit her on the face. The police arrived at their home but did not arrest Mr. Graham.
Another temporary PFA was granted, and Mr. Graham was evicted from the Lane Street home and ordered to have no contact with her.
In a subsequent court order, Ms. Flippen was given primary custody of Esau, and Mr. Graham received visitation rights.
On Oct 15, 2007, Mr. Graham filed a PFA petition related to the same incident. He claimed Ms. Flippen struck him.
Mr. Graham's temporary petition was denied.
In October 2008, after a move to Spruce Street, Ms. Flippen filed another PFA. She said that when Mr. Graham came to the Spruce Street home to collect his belongings, he held her on the bed and bit her, shoved her and threatened her.
"Mr. Graham has abused me in the past. His trademark is biting me," she wrote.
That temporary PFA was granted and Mr. Graham was excluded from the Spruce Street house.
As part of that order, custody of Esau was to be negotiated between the two by Mr. Graham's mother, Shelly Lewis.
Ms. Flippen repeatedly failed to show up for hearings, however, and that PFA was dismissed on Oct. 31, 2008.
The latest court action was on Jan. 26 of this year, this time at an address of 16 Walnut St., where the child had been living since Jan. 20.
Ms. Flippen showed up at the Walnut Street address to pick up Esau, and they fought over the child.
A PFA was granted after the Jan. 26 incident, and Mr. Graham was excluded from the Spruce Street home and denied visitation rights.