Police: Richland man says 'archangel' told him to stab grandmother to death

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A 26-year-old stabbed his grandmother to death -- and told police he did so because the archangel Michael had told him to "kill the witch."

Levi Daniel Staver on Tuesday morning stabbed Constance Johnston, 76, in their Richland home, while she and her husband, David, were eating breakfast, police said.

Mr. Staver has been charged with criminal homicide and is being held in the Allegheny County Jail.

He later told police he was sitting at his computer when the "archangel" told him to "kill the witch," according to court documents. Mr. Staver told police the direction was not verbal, but that "if the archangel wants me to do something, I just do it."

After receiving the directive, he "got dressed like a soldier, took a sword and said 'This thing has got to go,' " court documents said. Mr. Staver told police he was employed by "the Angelic Army under the direction of the archangel Michael." He later told police the weapon was not a sword, but a large knife.

Mrs. Johnston and her husband, a retired minister, were sitting at the kitchen table at their house in the 3900 block of Gibsonia Road when Mr. Staver "sneakily" walked up the stairs from his room in the basement, authorities said.

Mr. Staver stabbed Mrs. Johnston once in the upper center part of her back, Northern Regional police Chief T. Robert Amann said.

Mr. Johnston wrestled Mr. Staver for the knife, pushed him out the back door and provided aid to his wife, according to court documents.

Mr. Staver's mother, who also lives at the Gibsonia Road house, was in another room when she heard noises. She called 911 at 9:37 a.m., Chief Amann said.

Mrs. Johnston was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later in her home, police said.

"It's just a very tragic incident for a family," Chief Amann said.

Asked whether relatives had expressed concerns about Mr. Staver's mental health, the chief said, "The family had serious, serious concerns."

Police have responded to calls at that house before, Chief Amann said, but he said he could not elaborate on their nature because of ongoing investigations. Both county homicide detectives and Northern Regional police are investigating.

Family members spoke with officials at the Northern Regional police department Tuesday afternoon. They declined to allow a reporter to interview them.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede. Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. First Published February 19, 2013 6:30 PM


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