Jail escapee charged in Pa. homicide

May 10, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Nineteen months after the decomposed body of Carl Ryder was found along a Huntingdon County roadside, Pennsylvania State Police in Franklin County have charged a jail escapee and former employee with criminal homicide, citing DNA and physical evidence that indicate the crime occurred in Franklin County.

Scott Nathan North, 27, was charged Friday by police in the death of the 23-year-old Amberson, Pa., man whose body was discovered Aug. 16, 2006, several days after he was reported missing and two weeks after North, a Franklin County Prison inmate, walked away from a work release assignment in Shippensburg, Pa.

North is scheduled to be in Franklin County Court for jury selection Monday on the escape charge, Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom said.

The criminal homicide charge was filed with Senior Magisterial District Judge Brenda Knepper in Pleasant Hall, Pa. A preliminary hearing on the homicide charge is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, according to the district attorney's office.


North has been in jail since he was caught driving Ryder's car on Aug. 11, but police spokesman Trooper Karl Schmidhamer said the case was complicated by having two crime scenes in different counties. Charges in Huntingdon County stemming from a high-speed chase before North's capture were dismissed, trumped by the murder charge the suspect faces in Franklin County, Schmidhamer said.

"When the body of Mr. Ryder was initially found in Huntingdon County, the law presumes the charges are filed in the county in which the body was recovered," unless evidence indicates the murder was committed elsewhere, Krom said.

A new district attorney, George Zanic, was elected in Huntingdon County, and after he reviewed the case, he determined it should be returned to Franklin County's jurisdiction, she said.

Once the case changed hands, Krom said prosecutors in Franklin County needed to prepare the case.

When North was found driving Ryder's 1991 Ford Crown Victoria, he claimed he was Ryder and tried to explain away the fact that he did not look like the driver's license photo by telling a trooper he had undergone plastic surgery, police in Huntingdon said at the time of North's apprehension.

When police searched the car, they found blood stains in the trunk. They also found an address book belonging to North that had blood stains, as well, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Cpls. Bradley C. Ford and Daniel M. Sneath.

A soil sample from Ryder's front yard also yielded "a significant amount of blood (that) had dried on the grass," the affidavit stated.

A left Skechers shoe was found Aug. 11, 2006, in a field bordering Ryder's Drifted Lane home when police searched for the missing man. When his body, identified from dental records, was found five days later, he was wearing a matching right shoe, police said.

Ryder died of blunt force trauma, according to the results of an Aug. 17, 2006, autopsy, police said. The criminal complaint placed the time of death between Aug. 5 and 16, 2006.

When police spoke with Ryder's sister, Cindy Ryder, on Aug. 11, she told them she had not heard from him in several days and she said that was unusual.

The blood samples from the car, the yard and the address book were tested by the Pennsylvania State Police Crime Laboratory. The DNA from the blood samples matched Ryder's DNA, police said.

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