By Keith Gushard
Authorities hope to learn later today the identity of the human remains that were found Friday night in northern Crawford County.
An autopsy on those remains now is set for later today in Erie, Francis Schultz, the county’s district attorney, said Sunday afternoon. Schultz declined to answer additional questions on the case pending the outcome of today’s autopsy.
On Saturday, Schultz confirmed human remains were found Friday evening inside a barrel in a wooded area off Brown Hill Road in Rockdale Township. Schultz said the head and hands were missing.
The remains are believed to be those of Gerald Vandyke, 55, of the Union City area, who has been missing since Sept. 14, Schultz said. The autopsy has been scheduled to give confirmation.
The pickup truck Vandyke allegedly was driving at the time of his disappearance, a silver Dodge Dakota with Pennsylvania license plate YKW-4528, has not been recovered.
Richard A. Houy, 68, of 21300 Teepleville Flats Road, Cambridge Springs, is charged by Pennsylvania State Police with criminal homicide, criminal use of a communication facility, tampering with or fabricating evidence, and false reports to law enforcement in connection with Vandyke’s death.
In an interview with state police Wednesday, Houy allegedly confessed to state police that he had killed Vandyke on Sept. 14, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by state police in connection with the case.
Houy admitted in the police interview that he had disposed of Vandyke’s body in French Creek after killing Vandyke at Houy’s Rockdale Township property, the affidavit said.
However, the affidavit also stated Tina Skelton, Houy’s daughter and Vandyke’s long-time live-in girlfriend, 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 Vandyke’s body before placing the remains in either a wooden box or barrels inside Houy’s barn, according to the affidavit.
On Sept. 15, Vandyke was reported missing to state police by Skelton and her parents, Richard A. Houy and Sandra Houy, the affidavit said.
Skelton told police that Vandyke had not been seen since 9 a.m. Sept. 14 when Vandyke left the Erie County home that she and Vandyke own, according the affidavit.
The affidavit said Skelton had told Vandyke she wanted to end an approximate 10-year relationship with him. Skelton and Vandyke aren’t married, but jointly own a 26-acre property and home on Smith Road in LeBoeuf Township, Erie County, according to the affidavit.
Richard Houy remains in the Crawford County jail in Saegertown without bond awaiting his preliminary hearing Oct. 10 on the charges filed against him.
Schultz has said it is possible additional persons may be charged in connection with Vandyke’s death.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.