By Keith Gushard
ROCKDALE TOWNSHIP —
A Crawford County man allegedly has admitted to killing his daughter’s boyfriend, but authorities haven’t been able to determine what exactly happened to the victim’s remains or exactly where they are.
Pennsylvania State Police spent Thursday searching areas of northern Crawford County for the remains of Gerald P. Vandyke, 55, of 15251 Smith Road, Union City, as well as any signs of Vandyke’s pickup truck, a silver Dodge Dakota with Pennsylvania license plate YKW-4528. Vandyke was reported missing Sept. 15.
Police spent much of Thursday combing through the Rockdale Township property of Richard A. Houy, 68, of 21300 Teepleville Flats Road, as well as sections of French Creek in northern Crawford County. Divers from the Crawford County Scuba Team were called out to assist state police.
According to a search warrant affidavit filed by state police, Houy admitted in an interview with police to disposing of Vandyke’s body in French Creek.
The affidavit also stated Houy’s daughter, Tina Skelton, told police that Houy admitted to her to killing Vandyke on Sept. 14 at Houy’s home. Skelton told police her father may have used a chain saw to dismember the body before placing the remains in either a wooden box or barrels inside Houy’s barn.
Skelton, Richard A. Houy and Houy’s wife, Sandra, had contacted state police on Sept. 15 claiming Vandyke had not been seen since Vandyke left home at 9 a.m. Sept. 14.
Richard Houy was arraigned at 3:15 a.m. Thursday before Magisterial District Judge Amy Nicols on state police charges of criminal homicide, criminal use of a communication facility, tampering with or fabricating evidence, and false reports to law enforcement.
He was committed to the Crawford County jail without bond as homicide is a non-bondable offense. Houy faces a preliminary hearing on the charges Oct. 10 at 2 p.m.
The incident is connected to Skelton wanting to end an approximate 10-year relationship with Vandyke, according to the affidavit. Skelton and Vandyke aren’t married, but they jointly own a 26-acre home and property on Smith Road in LeBoeuf Township, Erie County, according to the affidavit.
In an interview with police, Houy admitted to luring Vandyke from his Smith Road home to Houy’s home on the pretense of fixing Houy’s tractor, according to the affidavit.
Houy told police that once the pair were at Houy’s home, the two argued with Houy punching Vandyke in the face, according to the affidavit. The blow caused Vandyke to fall and strike his head on a piece of machinery, the affidavit said.
Houy claimed he then put Vandyke’s body in Vandyke’s pickup truck and drove the truck to the French Creek access area off Miller Station Road, the affidavit said. Houy told police he dumped Vandyke’s body into French Creek, then drove the truck a short distance on Miller Station Road before abandoning the truck with the keys in it and Vandyke’s wallet and cellphone on the seat, the affidavit said.
Skelton told investigators that when Houy arrived at the Smith Road residence at 9 a.m. on Sept. 14, the day Vandyke was last seen, “Houy was agitated and had plans to lure the victim (Vandyke) to his residence under the guise of needing the victim’s help to fix the PTO on a tractor,” according to the affidavit.
Skelton said that she “begged and pleaded with Richard Houy, as she knew that Houy wished to cause harm to the victim,” the affidavit said.
Skelton told police she then left the home residence, returning around noon that day, according to the affidavit. When she returned, Skelton said a woman told her that Houy came back and asked Vandyke for help fixing a tractor at Houy’s home, according to the affidavit.
“Skelton claims she became physically ill, knowing it was too late to intervene or save the victim,” the affidavit said.
Skelton told police she went to Houy’s residence around midnight on Sept. 14 and was led by Houy into a barn on the property, where she saw a large circular pattern of reddish brown fluid on the ground along with droplets on the ground that appeared to be blood and a small plastic container filled with fluid which she believed was blood, according to the affidavit.
Skelton said she also saw a chain saw that she believed was used to dismember Vandyke and a wooden box that she believed might have contained Vandyke’s body, police wrote in the affidavit.
Houy told Skelton that he struck Vandyke in the head with a tire iron or metal bar and led her to believe that Vandyke’s body, “in whole or in parts, was placed in barrels or drums within the barn,” according to the affidavit.
Skelton said that in the last few days, Houy had mentioned he had the barrels or drums removed from the barn, according the affidavit. Those barrels or drums may have been taken to an unknown location in Meadville or possibly Jarvis Swamp, according to the affidavit.
Skelton has not been charged by state police nor has Sandra Houy.
Tribune calls to Vandyke’s son, Andrew, on Thursday weren’t returned.