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Police: Westmoreland Co. Man Tried To Kill Wife By Putting Tripwire At Top Of Steps

DERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) -- A man in Westmoreland County is accused of trying to kill his wife by putting a tripwire at the top of the steps.

State police say it is one of the most bizarre alleged attempted murders they have ever dealt with.

Troopers told KDKA that William Dankesreiter Jr. tried to murder his wife in the couple's Derry Township home by way of gravity and fishing line.

"Mr. Dankesreiter put a tripwire at the top of the steps," trooper Stephen Limani said.

The woman got tripped up, but her quick reaction likely saved her from injury or worse, police say.

"If she had fallen, there were about 10 steps she would have fallen down and there is a small landing area. And then another few steps, she would have been landing on concrete. I can only imagine how catastrophic her injuries would be," trooper Limani said.

As troopers continued to talk to the alleged victim, Laura Dankesreiter, they found out more and more information about the couple's relationship. She told investigators that this wasn't the first time her husband tried to hurt her.

"That's one of the things with domestic violence," trooper Limani said, "it usually increases. It starts at a low level, with verbal abuse, and escalates to physical violence."

Investigators say William Dankesreiter Jr. showed up at the home in his pickup truck as troopers were talking to his wife. The 60-year-old was charged with attempted murder and taken into custody.

"It was obviously thought through," trooper Limani said. "I don't know how long he was thinking this through. You could definitely see there was a line tied across. There was nothing accidental about this."

William Dankesreiter Jr. is in the Westmoreland County Jail, held on $500,000 bond. He's charged with multiple felonies, including attempted homicide.

His wife is safe tonight and has filed a protection from abuse order from her husband. As for a motive, state police say they're working on many possible leads.

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