The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

February 22, 2014

News briefs from Feb. 22, 2014

- — Man accused of breaking into home, raping woman

JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP – A Sharon man has been charged with raping a Jefferson Township woman after ordering her 16-month-old son to watch.

Joseph W. Merchant, 21, of 138 Orchard St., has been charged with rape, burglary, sexual assault and unlawful restraint.

The victim reported she was in her home Monday in the 7900 block of West Market Street playing with her son when Merchant entered the home through a window, Jefferson Township police said.

Merchant came up behind the woman, grabbed the back of her neck and shoved her onto a mattress, police said.

Merchant put his knee on the woman’s chest, removed her shorts, screamed at the boy to sit and watch and then raped her, police said.

After Merchant got up, the woman grabbed her son and locked them in a bedroom, police said. When they came out, Merchant was gone, police said.

Before the attack, Merchant had sent the woman text messages threatening to blow up her home and saying that, if he couldn’t have her, no one will, police said.

Merchant was jailed and faces a preliminary hearing at 9:30 a.m. Monday before District Judge Lorinda L. Hinch.

No cause of death yet on man found in snow

SLIPPERY ROCK – The Butler County coroner has ruled out hypothermia as the cause of death for the Harrisville man whose body was found lying in the snow in downtown Slippery Rock.

Assault has also been ruled out and authorities seek information from anyone who encountered Aaron Loy Cook, 28, in the hours before he died, trooper Dan Kesten, the public information officer for Butler state police, said.

Kesten confirmed police are waiting on toxicology reports to determine if Cook had drugs or alcohol in his system.

Kesten couldn’t confirm whether Cook had been drinking before his body was discovered at about 8:15 p.m. Feb. 12 in a yard off of Elm and Cooper streets, not far from Ginger Hill Tavern on South Main Street, where he was reportedly last seen at about 1:45 a.m. that day.

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Local News
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