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Headless body found stuffed inside steel drum may be missing Pa. man, police say

Police investigating the area where a headless body was found September 27. CBS affiliate WSEE

Police investigating the area in Crawford County, Pa., where a headless body was reportedly found September 27, 2013.
CBS affiliate WSEE
(CBS/AP) ERIE, Pa. - A headless body found in a steel drum in Crawford County, Pa. may be that of a man who went missing on Sept. 14 and is believed to have been killed by his girlfriend's father, police said Monday.

CBS affiliate WSEE reports investigators believe the body, which has yet to be positively identified, is that of 55-year-old Gerald P. VanDyke.

Last week, Richard A. Houy, of Cambridge Springs, in northwest Pennsylvania, was reportedly charged with criminal homicide in the death of  VanDyke,  the longtime boyfriend of Houy's daughter. Houy reportedly told police that during an argument he punched VanDyke, who fell and struck his head, and that he dumped the body in a creek.

An autopsy found that the man in the steel drum died from a hunting arrow that went through his heart. The body was missing its head and hands, and DNA testing will have to be done to determine the identity.

The station reports investigators were still searching for the missing body parts over the weekend. It is not clear if they have been found.

Houy's daughter told police her father led her to believe that VanDyke's body, "in whole or in parts," was placed in barrels or drums, police said. She also told police that she had terminated her relationship with VanDyke and hired an attorney to split the 26 acres of land they jointly owned.

Houy became a person of interest in the case on Sept. 20, when he was suspected of being the source of two anonymous phone calls made to state police about VanDyke, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

In both calls, made the morning of Sept. 18, the caller told police that VanDyke indicated that he was leaving town and didn't want anyone to know where he was going.

Police said Houy at first denied making the anonymous phone calls but later admitted it.

Houy is being held without bail in the Crawford County jail. No attorney for him was listed on court papers.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 10.

  • Crimesider Staff

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