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Singley charged with raping woman who was slain

December 29, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man charged in the deaths of two people last year was charged Wednesday by the Chambersburg Police Department with raping the woman.

Michael Brandon Singley, 23, of 1126 E. Brandon Drive, was arraigned Wednesday before District Justice Gary L. Carter on a charge of raping Christine Rohrer, 23, of 391 Elder St., on Nov. 3, 1998.

The affidavit of probable cause said the charge was based on a DNA match between samples recovered from Rohrer's body and Singley.

A preliminary hearing on the first-degree felony is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 6. Singley has been held without bond in Franklin County Prison since Nov. 4, 1998, charged in the stabbing death of Rohrer and the shooting death of James Gilliam, 39, her next-door neighbor.

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Singley is also charged with attempted homicide of Rohrer's husband and his cousin, Travis Rohrer, and of Gilliam's girlfriend, Deb L. Hock.

Other charges filed after Singley was taken into custody at his home last year include criminal trespass for allegedly entering the Rohrers' home to commit a crime and theft for allegedly taking their Jeep Cherokee.

The affidavit of probable cause filed by Detective Sgt. Dianne Kelso stated Singley "admitted to being alone in the residence with Christine Rohrer" from 6 to 8 p.m. The admission was made when he was interviewed by police on the day he was charged with the killings, according to court records. The affidavit said Singley told police he brought a knife and duct tape to the house and bound her with the tape.

Rohrer's body was discovered in the second-floor bedroom of the duplex, according to court records. The affidavit said she was unclothed and bound with the tape and had "multiple stab wounds and laceration type injuries."

The affidavit said vaginal swabs taken at her autopsy were sent to the Pennsylvania State Police Crime Lab and Borough police obtained a search warrant to get a blood sample from Singley.

"The result of the analysis revealed that the spermatozoa collected from Christine Rohrer was positively identified as a match to the DNA profile of Michael B. Singley," the affidavit said.

Public Defender Robert J. Trambley said he learned of the rape charge only after it was filed. Singley's case was recently continued to the March trial term in Franklin County Court.

"We're still preparing for trial," Trambley said.

Court-ordered testing for Singley included and MRI brain scan and an electroencephalogram with sleep tracing to determine if he has any neurological abnormalities.

"If there are any abnormalities, and what those abnormalities mean, is in the hands of the experts," Trambley said.

Earlier this year a defense psychiatrist determined that Singley was competent to assist in his own defense.

The District Attorney's Office has filed a notice of aggravating circumstances, a requirement to seek the death penalty in Pennsylvania. Those aggravating circumstances include the charges he killed Gilliam and attempted to kill Travis Rohrer and Hock.

"It takes a long time to get the DNA results back," Assistant District Attorney Jill McCracken said Wednesday about the almost 14 months that elapsed between the killings and the filing of the rape charge. She said the families of the victims were aware the charge was to be filed.

After Christine Rohrer had been raped and stabbed, Travis Rohrer arrived at their home and was stabbed and shot, according to police records. Gilliam and Hock were arriving home when he was shot in the chest by a man leaving the Rohrer's house. The man fired at Hock but missed, according to police records.

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