The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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June 28, 2014

Miranda halted by cops an hour before homicide

Stopped again for speeding 3 days later in alleged murder car

— SELINSGROVE — In the month before Sunbury police executed a search warrant at the wrong address, and Snyder County investigators procured what has become a contentious confession, murder suspect Miranda Barbour — whose cell phone records were being linked to victim Troy LaFerrara — was stopped by Selinsgrove state troopers on Routes 11-15, and let go.

She was also pulled over by Selinsgrove borough police one hour before LaFerrara was slain.

On the night of Nov. 11, Selinsgrove borough police stopped Barbour’s red Honda CRV because she and husband, Elytte, were driving without headlights in Hummels Wharf.

Police issued an oral warning and let them continue on their way. Within an hour, LaFerrara, a 42-year-old civil engineer, was stabbed more than 20 times. His face-down body was found the next morning in an alley behind Catawissa Avenue, high on a hill of residential neighborhoods that overlooks Sunbury.

Three days after LaFerrara was murdered, the same red Honda CRV was stopped by Selinsgrove state troopers for speeding on Routes 11-15. Mrs. Barbour, 18, told police she was in a rush because she possibly had to take her child to the hospital for suffering a concussion.

Troopers issued Barbour a ticket.

The story about the baby’s concussion was fabricated.

Mrs. Barbour, who advertised herself a conversationalist for hire on the Internet, had been in Harrisburg, having dinner with a client. Her husband had been upset and called her with the story of the sick infant to lure her home to Selinsgrove.

Mrs. Barbour sent her $112 traffic fine to Middleburg District Court on Nov. 26 for failure to observe traffic control devices.

By then, Sunbury police were well into the search for LaFerrara’s killer. They had requested video surveillance from all Routes 11-15 businesses in eastern Snyder County. Those security tapes showed the Barbours spotted several times. One videotape, from a department store, showed Mrs. Barbour waiting in the parking lot inside her red Honda CRV, while her husband went inside to purchase cleaning supplies.

The Barbours were also viewed on tape at a gasoline station, where Selinsgrove borough police had pulled over Mrs. Barbour for driving without headlights, roughly an hour before the time of the killing. Police also received word of the Barbours eating at a restaurant shortly after the time in which LaFerrara was murdered.

On Dec. 3, a week after settling her speeding ticket, Mrs. Barbour was arrested for LaFerrara’s murder. Police said she admitted to the killing. She said she admitted to killing only in self-defense, according to court documents.

Three days later, Mr. Barbour was arrested. He claimed he and his wife murdered LaFerrara because they wanted to kill someone — anyone — together.

Police would not comment on any instance in which the Barbours had contact with law enforcement before their arrests. Nor would Sunbury police say whether they made other departments aware the Barbours were suspects prior to their arrests or whether they had issued a bulletin for the red Honda CRV.

Sunbury acting police Chief Brad Hare said officers’ awareness of the Barbours developed over time and that authorities were not 100 percent sure of their identities until just a few days before the arrests.

Other discovery evidence from search warrants and autopsy reports show LaFerrara had knives when his body was found. His pickup truck was discovered at the Susquehanna Valley Mall, Hummels Wharf, two days after his body was found.

Details of the investigation and arrests come from sealed search warrants and documents. At least 15 search warrants were left unsealed for 10 to more than 30 days before the Northumberland County district attorney’s office was made aware of the mistake and scrambled to re-seal them in February.

The re-sealed search warrants included information about various websites Mrs. Barbour and LaFerrara were visiting, text messages between the two and other crucial materials taken as evidence from the Barbour home on South Water Street, Selinsgrove. Those warrants also contain evidence taken from the LaFerrara home in Sunbury.

One of those warrants, however, was issued for 101 N. Market St., which is not where the Barbours lived. Officers used that warrant to investigate the Barbours’ home at 101 N. Water St.

In the hours before her arrest, Mrs. Barbour on Dec. 3 had waived her Miranda rights, asked unsuccessfully at least 12 times for an attorney, and allegedly admitted to the slaying. Her public defender’s attempt to suppress her statements because she was denied counsel failed in Northumberland County Court last week.

Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor has yet to rule on the admissibility of evidence of the botched search warrant.

The Barbours face the death penalty if tried and convicted.

 

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