Pa. murder-suicide called 'hauntingly familiar'

February 21, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • This chart shows the number of people killed in domestic violence incidents in Pennsylvania in recent years.
This chart shows the number of people killed in domestic violence incidents in Pennsylvania in recent years.

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. — An advocate for ending domestic violence called Sunday’s murder-suicide in Fulton County, Pa., “hauntingly familiar” Monday as she talked about other situations in which assailants posted bail and killed shortly thereafter.

Judy Yupcavage from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence said the events in Ayr Township this weekend mirrored recent killings in such Pennsylvania communities as Scranton, New Cumberland and Lebanon.

“I couldn’t tell you how many cases where this happened. ... Bail — they just put it up and they’re back out,” Yupcavage said.

Ricky L. Hann, 51, of McConnellsburg, was arrested Saturday afternoon on charges of kidnapping, burglary, terroristic threats, unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment and simple assault. He posted bail that night, and Pennsylvania State Police allege he killed his girlfriend, Tina Souders, at about noon Sunday in woods near her home.

Magisterial District Judge Carol J. Johnson set bail at $100,000 straight bond Saturday on the kidnapping and related offenses. Police said Hann used a bail bondsman to reach that amount, leading to his release from Franklin County Jail in Chambersburg, Pa.

Trooper David McGarvey originally said bail was posted Sunday, but in a subsequent interview, he said bail was posted at about 11 p.m. Saturday.

Police allege Hann forced Souders, 39, into a wooded area near her Cito Road home and fatally shot her, then himself, with the same shotgun used to kidnap her Friday.

On Monday, criminal investigators were reviewing cell phone records and trying to determine where the shotgun came from, according to McGarvey.

He said Souders had obtained a protection-from-abuse order, and Hann was prosecuted earlier for violating it.

Yupcavage said protection-from-abuse orders (PFAs) in Pennsylvania are civil proceedings in which victims can seek relief with hope the relationship can resume if violence stops. She said the situations can be complex because the individuals involved often live together or have children.

“It was never intended to be a stand-alone protection against abuse. ... It directs the defendant to stop abusing or, sometimes, stay away,” Yupcavage said, saying a PFA carries the threat of incarceration for violation.

In most of the 17,000 PFAs issued in Pennsylvania each year, the order is enough to keep the defendant away, Yupcavage said.

“The plaintiff can ask to have firearms relinquished,” she said.

Yupcavage said the state constitution was amended about 10 years ago to allow the courts to deny bail if the offender poses a threat to the victim or community. However, she said that provision is “seldom” accessed, and, in the past, her organization has been given 20 minutes to talk about domestic violence during magisterial district judge training.

“The magisterial district judges do have the power to say ‘no bail,’” Yupcavage said.

She shared several stories of murders involving alleged abusers out on bail. Among them was the murder of a pregnant woman, who had a PFA for her ex-boyfriend, in Cumberland County in January.

Fulton County Coroner Berley Souders said autopsies for Hann and Tina Souders will be performed today in Allentown, Pa., although he believes they both died of gunshot wounds.

“We want to (look at) any underlying causes the autopsies find,” he said.

Attempts to reach Johnson and members of Tina Souders’ family were unsuccessful Monday.

Fulton County, Pa., murder-suicide timeline
(times are approximate)


  • 9:30 a.m. — Tina Souders arrives at the Pennsylvania State Police barrack to report that Ricky L. Hann woke her up the previous morning and held her captive for 24 hours until she convinced him to let her go.
  • 2 p.m. — Hann is arrested on charges of kidnapping and five other offenses.
  • 3 p.m. — Hann is arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Carol J. Johnson. Bail is set at $100,000, and Hann is incarcerated in Franklin County (Pa.) Jail.
  • 11 p.m. — Hann posts bail.

  • 11:45 a.m. — Troopers are called by Souders’ family to her Cito Road home and hear gunshots on arrival. Officers in a state police helicopter soon spot two bodies in the woods.
  • 2:15 p.m. — Souders and Hann are pronounced dead.

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