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Bechtels, Tragus & Barkus PA 08-15-2002

Raienhana Bechtel, 22

Jacob Bechtel, 3

PA, Morea, Schuylkill Co.

Kristen L. Tragus, 34, of Lost Creek;

David D. Barkus, 30, of Delano

August 15, 2002

Michael Harley Bechtel, 26, of Morea, a village near Mahanoy City, was charged with four counts of homicide and related crimes. Bechtel allegedly shot the victims in the head before turning the gun on himself.

Police believe Bechtel shot his wife, Raienhna P. Bechtel, 22, and their son, Jacob Bechtel, 3, both of Morea; Kristen L. Tragus, 34, of Lost Creek; and David D. Barkus, 30, of Delano at his wife's home about 1:15 a.m on that Thursday.

Police also interviewed Michael Bechtel's cousin, James Palestis of Girardville, with whom Bechtel lived. Palestis said his cousin's demeanor had changed in the 10 days before the killings because Raienhna Bechtel had started dating.

The bodies were discovered 7 p.m. last Thursday when Raienhna Bechtel's mother, Joan Michelle Starr, went to the home. Police said Starr became concerned when her daughter failed to answer repeated telephone calls.

Starr looked through a window, saw the bodies, and called 911, police said.

State troopers from the Frackville barracks found Raienhna Bechtel, Tragus, and Barkus at the kitchen table. Jacob Bechtel was in a bed upstairs.

Autopsies have confirmed all four died of gunshot wounds to the head.

Michael Bechtel, seriously injured by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, was found on the floor near his son's bed, a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol under him.


Le Chrysalis News Stories


PA - - Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence - Fatalities - 2002 Fatality Report

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