Criminal homicide charge forwarded against Franklin Co. prison inmate

June 20, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- An assistant district attorney argued Thursday that a Franklin County Prison inmate on the lam two years ago killed his former employer and used the man's driver's license and credit cards to make several purchases, including a rap CD, before Pennsylvania State Police stopped him while driving a stolen car in Huntingdon County, Pa.

A count of criminal homicide and a host of other charges will be forwarded to Scott Nathan North's mandatory arraignment scheduled for July 30 in Franklin County Court. Senior Magisterial District Judge Brenda Knepper presided over North's three-hour preliminary hearing this week and denied the defense's request to drop the murder charge.

"The cause of death was blunt-force trauma, but the case has not been established how that happened (or) when that happened," defense attorney John Abom argued.

State police testified that North had been read his Miranda rights when interviewed again last month about the death of Carl Ryder of Amberson, Pa., which is in Franklin County's rural northern tip.


"He related to me that he placed the body where we found it on Aug. 16, '06," Cpl. Bradley Ford said.

Troopers received a call from a woman about a body she discovered 100 yards off Allison Road in Tell Township in Huntingdon County. Police testified that the body was in a cleared pipeline, partially obscured by a tree that had been pulled over it.

"You could smell the body, but not see it" from the road, Cpl. Daniel Sneath said.

Trooper Warren Rhyner III testified that he received word from his supervisor about a Franklin County inmate who had walked away from his work-release job. Rhyner recalled being told that the inmate might be driving an older model Ford LTD, but he ultimately stopped what turned out to be a 1991 Ford Crown Victoria, which the trooper said he perceived to look similar in the dark.

"Mr. North provided a Pennsylvania driver's license bearing the name Carl Ryder. I told him that he didn't look much like the picture on the ID card," Rhyner said. North responded that he had underwent plastic surgery, the trooper said.

North, formerly of Fannettsburg, Pa., allegedly led police on a vehicle and foot chase after the initial traffic stop. Troopers testified that they found Carl Ryder's cell phone, credit cards and driver's license in North's possession, then discovered what Assistant District Attorney Angela Krom characterized as a "substantial quantity of blood" in the car's trunk.

In initial questioning, North "told me that he had been staying at Mr. Ryder's residence with his permission, that Mr. Ryder had gone on vacation, I believe, to North Carolina," Rhyner testified.

Although Ryder, 43, had been in North Carolina, he also was seen on Chambersburg convenience store surveillance videotapes from Aug. 5, according to testimony.

Ryder's body was found in an "advanced form of decay," and was identified through dental records, Sneath testified.

Ford testified that tests matched Ryder's DNA to blood found on soil in what would be considered the front yard of his property at 16922 Drifted Lane. Police said Ryder lived in a trailer on the property, which had a few outbuildings as well.

"The shoe found on Carl Ryder, the match seems to be the shoe found in the grassy field near his residence," Ford said.

Abom said he conceded that Krom had made her case concerning the charges of escape, theft, abuse of a corpse, fleeing or eluding police, and access device fraud. However, he took issue with the burglary and criminal homicide charges.

"There's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but they have not established that Mr. North ... caused Mr. Ryder's death," Abom said.


The following is a timeline of events in connection with the death of Carl Ryder. Scott Nathan North has been charged with criminal homicide and other charges in Ryder's death.

All events in this timeline took place in 2006.

July 29 - Carl Ryder's credit card used to purchase gas in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

Aug. 2 - Scott Nathan North leaves his work-release job at Architectural Woodsmith in Shippensburg, Pa.

Aug. 4 - A woman returns home to her cabin on Drifted Lane in Amberson, Pa. She later tells police that she noticed the air conditioner was running, crumbs were on a paper plate and it appeared as if someone had slept in the bed.

Aug. 5 - Ryder's credit card used for gas in Newport News, Va., then at Sheetz on Wayne Avenue in Chambersburg, Pa., at about 9 p.m. Ryder participates in last known phone call at 9:29 p.m.

Aug. 7 - North spotted on surveillance tapes at Food Lion and Kmart in Chambersburg.

Aug. 9 - Ryder's credit card used to buy an Eminem CD at Wal-Mart in Huntingdon County, Pa.

Aug. 10 - Ryder's credit card used and name signed at Pit Stop on Philadelphia Avenue in Chambersburg.

Aug. 11 - North taken to Pennsylvania State Police's Huntingdon barracks at 1 a.m. after a traffic stop and foot chase. Later that day, police contact Ryder's sister, who declares him missing.

Aug. 16 - Body, later identified to be Ryder's, found in Tell Township in Huntingdon County.

Aug. 17 - Autopsy performed. Cause of death later released as blunt-force trauma and homicidal act.

- Compiled by Jennifer Fitch

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