Body found is that of missing man

August 18, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A body found Wednesday in Huntingdon County, Pa., is that of a Franklin County man who had been reported missing, according to Coroner Ron Morder, but that county's district attorney said Thursday he would not speculate on whether the case is connected to a Franklin County Prison escapee who was arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase in the dead man's car.

Morder Thursday night identified the body as that of Carl Ryder, 43, of 16922 Drifted Lane in Amberson, Pa. A determination as to the cause and manner of death was pending the results of additional tests, Morder said.

Ryder's body was found by a woman Wednesday morning off Allison Road in Teller Township near Blairs Mills, Pa., police said.

"People are making an awful lot of assumptions without a lot of data," Huntingdon County District Attorney Robert Stewart said Thursday afternoon, before Ryder had been identified. "I am not ready to characterize what kind of investigation it is."


"We're looking at this case extremely carefully," Stewart said.

Stewart said he will meet today with Pennsylvania State Police investigators from Franklin and Huntingdon counties to discuss their findings.

Stewart confirmed that a prison escapee, 26-year-old Scott Nathan North of Fannettsburg, Pa., was caught Aug. 10 in possession of a 1991 silver Ford Crown Victoria registered to Ryder.

Ryder's father, Norman Ryder of Amberson, said Wednesday that his son was missing and police had been in contact with the family.

"I think they put two and two together and came here looking for Carl," he said.

A woman who answered the telephone at Norman Ryder's home Thursday night said the family declined to comment.

"It was something we were checking into after they found the car," Trooper Ed Asbury of the Chambersburg barrack said Thursday. In their efforts to find the car's owner, Asbury said police determined that Carl Ryder has been missing since about Aug. 6.

"I think that's what we're looking at," Asbury said when asked if police are investigating possible connections between North being caught with Ryder's car and Ryder's disappearance and death. He said police had collected evidence from Carl Ryder's house and the vehicle, including blood found in the trunk, which was being tested.

Absolutely a suspect

"I would say absolutely ... I would have to say (North) is a suspect" in the disappearance of Ryder, Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson said Thursday.

"I don't know what happened to Carl," Norman Ryder said Wednesday afternoon. Ryder said he had not seen or talked with his son for about three months. He said his son is self-employed and owns a fencing business.

"I believe there are credible reports that North had occasionally worked for Ryder in his fencing business," Nelson said.

North was on a work-release assignment with a Shippensburg, Pa., manufacturer when he failed to return from lunch on Aug. 2. He was sentenced in Franklin County Court on July 5 to 11 1/2 to 23 months in jail for burglary and theft convictions, Warden John Wetzel said Wednesday.

The cases included a burglary at the Hillside Tavern in Fannettsburg, Pa., in which a rifle, guitars and cigarettes were stolen and the theft of an Arctic Cat and beer from a cabin, according to court records.

North also had previous convictions for property crimes, receiving a county prison sentence in 2000 and a state prison sentence in 2001, according to court records.

North had been in jail since September 2005, Wetzel said. Along with the criminal convictions, he also had been serving time for nonsupport and would have been eligible for release in April 2007, the warden said.

Ryder's car spotted

On the night of Aug. 10, police learned that North had left a bar in Shirleysburg, Pa. A trooper spotted the Crown Victoria in Mount Union, Pa., north of Shirleysburg, state police in Huntingdon County said.

North pulled over on the U.S. 522 bypass, but when the trooper told him to get out of the vehicle, he sped off, police said. North continued north on U.S. 522 and then turned east on Pa. 22, traveling at speeds of about 100 mph through Wayne, Bratton and Granville townships in Mifflin County. A state police corporal from the Lewistown, Pa., barrack was heading home at the end of his shift and put out stop sticks that flattened the front tires of the car, police said.

Police said North drove a short distance before fleeing on foot and was caught near the Granville Fire Hall.

Nelson said he spoke with Stewart Thursday about the death investigation and "at this point, he is assuming jurisdiction over the case unless and until circumstances indicate otherwise."

If it is determined that Ryder is a homicide victim, but was killed in Franklin County, jurisdiction still could remain with Huntingdon County, Nelson said.

"Trial in a county other than the one where the offense occurred is not constitutionally prohibited," according to a 2003 decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court involving a homicide in which the killing occurred in Lehigh County, but the body was found in Northampton County.

As of Thursday afternoon, Stewart said North is facing charges of fleeing and eluding police, flight to avoid apprehension, resisting arrest, false identification, driving under suspension, speeding, reckless driving and other motor vehicle violations. He is being held in Huntingdon County Prison.

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