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Two men say they saw Pa. woman stabbed to death

July 09, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

At least two people saw a Chambersburg, Pa., man fatally stab his estranged wife outside of her Fayetteville apartment Saturday morning, according to court records.

Police interviewed two men who said they witnessed William Edward Cleary, 28, repeatedly stab Teresa Jean (Smith) Cleary, 33, outside of her 2208 Lincoln Way East home around 11 a.m. Saturday.

Teresa Cleary was pronounced dead at Chambersburg Hospital Saturday. The mother of two was described as "outgoing and friendly," and was settling into a new job as a licensed practical nurse in a Carlisle, Pa., rehabilitation center, said Beverly Burkholder, the victim's mother, Monday night.

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William Cleary has been in the custody of Franklin County Prison officers at Chambersburg Hospital since Saturday, where he has been recovering from self-inflicted stab wounds, police said.

He was still in the hospital Monday evening, according to a prison official.

Marvin Cooley, a next-door neighbor, said he heard "a lot of banging" in the victim's apartment and then saw Teresa Cleary outside screaming for help, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in District Justice Larry Pentz's Waynesboro office.

Cooley told police he saw a man pull Teresa Cleary to the ground and stab her in the neck or chest area, the affidavit said.

Steven Gilbert, who was across the street at the time, said he also saw a man stab the victim repeatedly, stab himself and then lay down beside her, the affidavit said.

William Cleary, of 137 E. Garfield St., Chambersburg, was charged with one count of first-degree murder.

An autopsy completed on Teresa Cleary at Chambersburg Hospital Monday showed she died of multiple stab wounds, Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey Conner said.

When Pennsylvania State Police officers arrived at the scene Saturday morning, emergency personnel were already treating Teresa Cleary in front of the residence. Officers also found William Cleary lying on the ground beside her with a knife nearby, the affidavit said.

When the officer asked William Cleary who stabbed his wife, he said "I did," according to the affidavit.

Trooper Ed Asbury said William Cleary's wounds were "superficial," and he underwent surgery at Chambersburg Hospital on Saturday. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday at 10:15 a.m. at Pentz's office, 57 E. Main St., Waynesboro, Pa.

Teresa Cleary had just started a job at Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in June, and had previously worked as an LPN at Vision Quest in South Mountain, Pa., and the Franklin County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Chambersburg, Burkholder said.

"She was just getting settled in, and she was very happy," Burkholder said. "She was just tickled to be getting things on the right road."

Teresa Cleary was also an avid NASCAR fan and enjoyed watching her brothers Doug Burkholder and Darryl Burkholder, both of Chambersburg, race cars locally. She also liked to see her children from a previous marriage, Zachary, 12, and Courtney, 10, race go-carts, Burkholder said.

"She was a devoted mother. The kids were her life," said Jack Smith, her ex-husband. "She had a big heart and was always in a good mood."

Smith said Teresa Cleary cheered her kids on in sports and helped Courtney win Miss Motorsports, Little Miss Franklin County and Little Miss Hagerstown contests in the last few years.

Funeral services will be Wednesday at Thomas L. Geisel Funeral Home in Chambersburg.

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