Lehigh Valley

Questions remain manhunt continues for man accused of killing wife

PALMER TWP., Pa. - The manhunt continues for a Palmer Township man accused of killing his wife, but questions remain about whether police followed protocol when the victim called for help.

Edgar Himel, 80, is accused of shooting his wife Penny VanTassel-Himel, 66, on July 4. Her body was discovered three days later in their Palmer Township home.

The Northampton County District Attorney's Office says Penny called 911 early in the morning on July 4.

Two officers responded to her home and saw someone who looked like Himel standing in the home, but he wouldn't respond or come to the door. The officers left the home.

Their response to the call is now under investigation.

"Those matters will be handled internally by the Palmer Township police department, as part of an internal review, to determine whether protocol was or was not followed,” said Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli at a news conference on Wednesday.

Chief Jennifer Lyon of Stroud Area Regional Police Department in Monroe County is not involved with the case or investigation but offered insight into what officers do when they respond to a 911 call.

She says each situation is different, and police rely heavily on information first given to them by 911 dispatchers.

"Officers arrive on scene to different calls, and they have to rely on what they've been given and their observations…what did they hear, what did they see, what did they smell…were there any witnesses, neighbors that hear anything,” Lyon said.

“It's not a desk job where your employer can give you a handbook and say 1,2,3 this is how you do it."

Chief Lyon says each department has their own policies and procedures they follow.

Chief Lyon says in her department, anytime there is a question about whether an officer didn't follow proper procedure an internal affairs investigation is opened that reviews everything in question from the top down.

She says it is always in any department's best interest to hold all of their officers accountable for mistakes.

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