The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 21, 2013


Wife plunged knife before husband reacted to signal, cop testifies

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — Elytte Barbour was late to act on the signal his new wife, Miranda, had given for him to wrap a cable around the neck of an unsuspecting Troy LaFerrara on Nov. 11, a city police officer testified Friday in the separate preliminary arraignments of the Selinsgrove couple facing criminal homicide charges.

Miranda tapped the leg of her husband, who was hiding under a blanket in the back seat of her red Honda CRV, and immediately began stabbing the married Port Trevorton civil engineer before Elytte emerged with the cord and started to strangle the client whom Miranda had just met through a Craigslist ad, Sunbury police officer Travis Bremigen testified during Elytte’s 50-minute hearing before District Judge Ben Apfelbaum.

Both Barbours pleaded not guilty Friday in the slaying that happened on the day of their three-week wedding anniversary, a murder they allegedly committed because they wanted to kill “someone, anyone,” Elytte told investigators, according to court records.

All charges against them, including robbery, were bound to Northumberland County Court.

LaFerrara, 42, had earlier responded to Miranda’s ad for female companionship on the social media Internet site, according to charging documents.

Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini said he was unsure whether he will seek the death penalty for the Barbours until after all evidence has been reviewed.

Evidence presented in court Friday included a bloody black cable found near LaFerrara’s body, which was discovered Nov. 12 in an alley behind Catawissa Avenue, and video surveillance that shows a skirt-clad Miranda walking around her sport utility vehicle in the parking lot of a Routes 11-15 department store, and that shows her husband shopping for cleaning supplies shortly after LaFerrara was killed.

Miranda, 19, on Friday sat stoned-faced and took notes during her three-hour hearing. Elytte, 22, later walked into Northumberland County Court with a half-smirk.

Authorities timed the Barbours’ court appearances to keep them from seeing each other. She is being held at Northumberland County Prison, he at Columbia County Jail. Neither is eligible for bail. No family members of either Barbour were among the 25 spectators who joined 25 journalists covering the hearing.

In a circus-like atmosphere, photojournalists scrambled to get the best vantage point for photographs and video of the Barbours as they entered and exited the courthouse.

Around 8 a.m. Friday, the Northumberland County Sheriff’s Department led Miranda into the courthouse, where she made her first face-to-face appearance with widowed Colleen LaFerarra and Colleen’s relatives.

Once Apfelbaum entered, Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley, Sunbury police officers and lead investigators Cpl. Jamie Quinn and Bremigen, and Selinsgrove state police Trooper Brent Bobb, would take the stand.

Knowing authorities had traced her cell phone to LaFerrara’s prior to his death, Miranda told police she didn’t want to leave the state police barracks after her Dec. 3 interview because she knew they would eventually come for her and she just wanted to get it all over with, Bobb testified.

She was arrested Dec. 3.

Kelley, who earlier said LaFerrara was knifed 20 times, testified that when he arrived near Catawissa Avenue on Nov. 12, he discovered a bloody black cable near LaFerrara’s head.

An autopsy determined the former engineer and Union-Chapman Township Regional Sewer Authority member died of multiple stab wounds. Strangulation was mentioned but was not listed as the cause of death, Kelley said.

Miranda flipped her hair as she listened to Kelley testify. At times, she leaned in to speak with her attorneys, Paige Rosini and Ed Greco, of the Northumberland County public defenders office.

Elytte barely looked up as he wrote notes during his entire early afternoon hearing until Apfelbaum informed him he was bounding all charges to court.

Elytte’s hearing was much quicker than that of his wife, as Bremigen, the city police officer, testified that Elytte volunteered to speak with police and admitted Nov. 11 the couple had decided to go to dinner when Miranda had a text message “pop up.”

The couple pulled over and got in position, Bremigen said. With her husband hiding under a blanket, Miranda met LaFerrara in the parking lot of the Susquehanna Valley Mall, Hummels Wharf, Bremigen testified.

Miranda met LaFerrara after he arranged a meeting with her through Craigslist for companionship, Elytte told police. The couple had a plan. When the signal — a tap to the leg — was given, Elytte would surface from the under the blanket and strangle LaFerrara while his wife would begin to knife the 275-pound man.

Once Miranda drove into Sunbury, she gave the signal.

Elytte told police he emerged, but Miranda had already begun to stab LaFerrara, Bremigen testified. Elytte then wrapped the cord around LaFerrara’s neck while Miranda continued to slash LaFerrara.

The Barbours murdered LaFerrara at the bottom of a hill near Catawissa Avenue, Elytte told police, according to Bremigen.

Miranda is sticking to her story that LaFerrara tried to grope her, that he put his hands around her neck and that she stabbed him in self-defense using a knife kept between the seats. She says she blacked out and woke up to LaFerrara barely breathing, she told police.

She then dumped his body in the alley, police said.

Video surveillance presented in court from Walmart, in Hummels Wharf, shows the Barbours arriving to purchase supplies to clean LaFerrara’s blood from Miranda’s car.

Police say the video shows Elytte leaving the back seat of the Honda, walking into the store and purchasing a red towel and cleaning supplies. Video also shows Miranda waiting outside, getting out of her Honda, walking around, getting back in her sport utility vehicle and waiting for Elytte, who arrived with a red towel wrapped around his shoulders.

Video shows Miranda wearing boots, a skirt, sweater and red jacket.

Police have seized all the clothing, including the red towel, from a search warrant issued to 101 N. Water St., Selinsgrove, where the couple lived, Bremigen testified.

Miranda told police she was the one who purchased the cleaning supplies, investigators said.

Elytte is being represented by James Best, who Friday kept his client’s preliminary arraignment much shorter than that of Miranda’s.

Best, who said he will move to consolidate the trials, did not comment on anything his client has said since his Dec. 6 arrest.

Elytte told The Daily Item that married men who hated their wives paid Miranda $50 to $850 a day for “delightful conversation.”

Greco, who represents Miranda, and Best are certified death penalty attorneys. Rosini also said the Barbours will likely go to trial in about 12 months.