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More tests needed to learn how Pa. man died

August 19, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - What caused the death of a Franklin County man whose body was discovered Wednesday in Huntingdon County had not been determined as of Friday, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

Huntingdon County Coroner Ron Morder on Thursday identified the body as that of Carl W. Ryder, 43, of 16922 Drifted Lane, but said additional tests were needed to determine the cause and manner of death.

"The cause of death was not apparent in the autopsy performed last night," Trooper Ed Asbury of the Chambersburg barrack said Friday. He said the autopsy showed no obvious signs of injury on the badly decomposed body, and police would be conducting further investigations at Ryder's home and where the body was found.

Huntingdon County District Attorney Robert Stewart said Thursday that he was to meet with state police investigators from Franklin and Huntingdon counties on Friday to examine the evidence in Ryder's death. Friday afternoon, Asbury said that meeting was rescheduled for Wednesday.

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The body was found by a woman Wednesday morning off Allison Road in Blairs Mills, Pa., near the Huntingdon-Franklin county line, police said. Police had been trying to find the whereabouts of Ryder since the capture of a Franklin County Prison escapee who was caught Aug. 10 driving Ryder's 1991 silver Crown Victoria.

Scott Nathan North, 26, of 10950 Spruce Ave. in Fannettsburg, Pa., failed to return from lunch to his work-release assignment on Aug. 2, police said. On the night of Aug. 10, police said he was spotted at a bar in Shirleysburg, Pa.

A trooper pulled the Crown Victoria over in Mount Union, Pa., about 10:30 a.m., and North showed the officer Ryder's driver's license, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

"I observed that the picture on the license did not look like him," Trooper Warren Rhyner wrote in the affidavit. North told him "he had undergone plastic surgery since the picture was taken and needed to get a new picture taken," Rhyner wrote.

When Rhyner told North to get out of the car, North started it up and began to drive off, police said. Rhyner grabbed North by the arm, but lost his grip, police said.

The ensuing chase went into Mifflin County, and reached speeds of up to 100 mph before police were able to use stop sticks to deflate the front tires of the Crown Victoria and take North into custody.

When interviewed by police on the morning of Aug. 11, North told them he had hitchhiked to Ryder's home after leaving his work-release assignment, police said. North said Ryder had allowed him to use his car and credit card and stay in his home while he was away in North Carolina.

Ryder's father said earlier this week that he had not been in contact with his son for about three months and that he had been in the Outer Banks. Carl Ryder owned a fencing business, Norman Ryder said.

Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson said Thursday that North is believed to have worked for Carl Ryder in the past.

Asbury said police began trying to find Ryder after North was found with his car, and that he had not been seen since about Aug. 6.

North, who was serving a sentence for burglary and theft when he walked away from his work release job, is being held in Huntingdon County on charges of fleeing or eluding police, flight to avoid apprehension, resisting arrest, false identification, driving with a suspended license, speeding and other traffic offenses, according to the criminal complaint filed with Magisterial District Judge Michael M. Colyer in Mount Union, Pa.

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