Lehigh Valley

Neighbor charged in killing of Lower Macungie woman

DA: Suspect used homemade air gun to kill victim

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Lehigh County district attorney announced Wednesday the arrest of the neighbor of the woman who was found shot in the driveway of her home in Lower Macungie Township in September 2016.

Josef Charles Raszler, the victim's neighbor, was charged with criminal homicide in the killing of Stephanie Roof, 46, District Attorney Jim Martin said in a news conference that was streamed live on WFMZ.com.

He is accused of killing Roof with a homemade air gun.

Raszler was arrested Wednesday afternoon at Allen Organ Company in Macungie, where he worked. Roof also worked at Allen Organ.

The man charged in the 2013 disappearance and murder of Holly Grim, Michael Horvath, also worked at Allen Organ, as did Grim, however, Martin said Wednesday there was no connection between the Roof and Grim cases.

Raszler, 35, is being held at the Lehigh County Jail on no bail.

Martin said Roof and Raszler, who lives across the street, had an intimate relationship.

Raszler was interviewed hours after the homicide, and at first denied having a relationship with Roof, according to the district attorney.

Later that day, however, he told police he had an intimate relationship with her. Examination of Roof's cell phone and items found in her home confirmed the nature of the relationship, officials said.

Investigators said they believe Roof ended the relationship in 2015, but Raszler was angry and "not accepting" of the breakup, Martin said.

Raszler is believed to have used a homemade air gun and projectile to kill Roof, Martin said. 

The district attorney showed pictures of the projectile at the news conference, as well as an air gun believed to be similar to the one Raszler used.

After a search of Roof's property, a metal projectile-like object was found in the front yard that didn't match any ammunition available for retail purchase, Martin said. DNA from blood on the projectile matched Roof's.

Prosecutors said searches on Raszler's computer included "high pressure air pumps for air rifles" and "most powerful air rifle."

Investigators found numerous tools and equipment consistent with those used for a homemade air gun and projectiles in a search of Raszler's home, Martin said.

Investigators also allege that Raszler tested the homemade gun at his parents' lake house in Schuylkill County days before the murder.

Roof was found shot in the chest in the driveway of her home in the 6400 block of Pine Crest Lane around 1 a.m. September 13.

According to court records, Roof's live-in-boyfriend tried to perform CPR upon making the discovery. She died at the hospital a short time later.

Law enforcement authorities said they identified a person of interest days after the homicide. Officials did not identify that person and charges were not filed at the time.

Court records showed a warrant was served on Roof's Toyota SUV and her home.

Investigators were interested in GPS-tracking information, DNA, blood stains, documents, weapons and other items, according to court papers.

State police said Roof was the mother of two teenage children.

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