Meadville Tribune

Local News

October 3, 2013

Accused killer Houy asks for public defender

MEADVILLE — The Rockdale Township man accused of murder wants taxpayers to pick up the tab for his defense even though the Crawford County Public Defender’s Office said he doesn’t qualify due to income and assets.

Richard A. Houy, 68, of 21300 Teepleville Flats Road, Cambridge Springs, is charged by Pennsylvania State Police with murder of the first degree, abuse of a corpse, tampering with or fabricating evidence, and false reports to law enforcement.

Houy allegedly admitted to killing his daughter’s boyfriend, Gerald P. Vandyke, 55, of 15251 Smith Road, Union City, during an interview with state police Sept. 25, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by state police.

Vandyke was reported missing to state police on Sept. 15 by Tina Skelton, Vandyke’s live-in girlfriend who also is Houy’s daughter; Houy and Houy’s wife, Sandra.

Houy applied for free legal representation through the county public defender’s office on Sept. 26, but he was denied.

On Sept. 27, Houy filed an appeal of the public defender’s decision with Crawford County Court of Common Pleas and a hearing is scheduled for today in county court.

In his appeal, Houy wrote the public defender would not represent him because of “income and assets well over the guideline limits for the PD (public defender) office.”

In the appeal, Houy wrote, “Presently the defendant is unable to contact family to inquire if they have contacted an attorney for legal aid.”

In an affidavit supporting his application for a public defender on Sept. 27, Houy lists both himself and his wife as retired.

Melinda Adams, spokeswoman for the State Correctional Institution at Albion, confirmed to the Tribune that Houy retired from the prison’s maintenance department in 2007.

In the affidavit, Houy lists up to $400,000 in assets as well as more than $3,000 per month in income for himself and $30,000 in total debt.

Houy earns $1,742 per month in pension benefits and annuities as well as $1,320 per month in Social Security benefits.

He lists an unknown amount in a checking account, but values it up to $150,000; an unknown value on two Individual Retirement Accounts; and values his real estate holdings, including his home, at up to $250,000. Houy lists his mortgage as paid, according to the affidavit.

The only debts Houy lists are $16,000 on a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck; and $14,000 on a Visa credit card account.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

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