Slain woman had protective order

Bruce Forsythe Sr., 53, was being held without bail on one count of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Joanna Plummer

Bruce Forsythe Sr., 53, was being held without bail on one count of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Joanna Plummer

November 26, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG - A former Hagerstown woman who was fatally shot outside of her Chambersburg area home Sunday afternoon had been granted a protection from abuse order against her estranged husband less than two weeks ago.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Carol Van Horn on Nov. 13 approved the order that prohibited Bruce Forsythe Sr. from having any contact with Joanna Plummer, according to court records.

"It's hard losing a child, especially when there was absolutely no reason for this to happen," Jim Plummer, her father, said Monday night from his home in Williamsport.


"I have no idea why this happened," Jim Plummer said. "She left him about a month ago and had been staying with her mother or friends in the Chambersburg area."

Plummer, 32, was pronounced dead at 3:27 p.m. Sunday, shot once in the head and once in the chest, Franklin County Coroner Jeff Conner said.

An autopsy was completed Monday morning at Chambersburg Hospital.

Forsythe, 53, formerly of Fayetteville, Pa., was being held without bail in Franklin County Prison on one count of first-degree murder, police said.

The domestic dispute erupted at around 2:45 p.m. Sunday outside of the couple's residence at 6283 Molly Pitcher Highway South in Guilford Township, police said.

Franklin County Emergency Services received a call from a male at the residence who said he shot his wife, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

"I just shot my wife. I'm sorry. Come and get me, I'm messed up," the man said to the 911 operator, the affidavit alleges.

When Trooper Joseph Davidson arrived he saw a woman laying in the front yard with a gunshot wound to the head, the affidavit said. A .22-caliber revolver was on the hood of a Ford Explorer in the driveway.

Forsythe told police he and Plummer were arguing in the front yard when he went inside to retrieve a gun and went back outside, court documents say.

Joanna Plummer had not been living at the residence, Sgt. James Brown of the Pennsylvania State Police said.

"She was staying at a couple of different places but her legal address was Molly Pitcher Highway. Her belongings were there, but she wasn't residing there," he said.

Jim Plummer said Forsythe and his daughter had been married about five years. "She had taken his name with hers, Plummer-Forsythe, until just recently," he said.

According to the protection from abuse order filed in the Franklin County Courthouse, Forsythe was to have no contact in person, by phone or through a third party with Plummer. She was given the right to enter the residence to retrieve her belongings.

The order was not to expire until May 13, 2004, and warned that violation of the order was punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail.

Court documents detailed several instances of alleged abuse, the most recent on Oct. 29, when Plummer accused her estranged husband of hitting her car and attempting to run her off the road.

The documents also list alleged incidents in August and September. Plummer had said she was repeatedly hit with closed fists and once knocked to the floor and had her clothes ripped off her while being choked to the point she thought she would pass out, according to court records.

Forsythe was arraigned Sunday night by District Justice Shirley Shatzer. A preliminary hearing is scheduled in her office on Dec. 2 at 11 a.m.

Joanna Plummer was employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. She was formerly employed at Nitterhouse Concrete Products, Valley Quarries Inc., and Plummer Construction - her father's company.

She also served an internship with the Washington County Engineering Department.

County engineer Terry McGee said he remembers she was "just a kid but she was very conscientious and interested in learning the design side of engineering," McGee said Monday night. "She was good at what she did, having learned a lot from her father's business."

Another friend who remembered Plummer as a friendly young woman was Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner who worked with her on the Sister City Association.

Currently vice president of that group, Plummer had been one of the first exchange students to Hagerstown's sister city of Wesel, Germany, years ago, Breichner said.

Staff writer Marlo Barnhart contributed to this story.

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