Court documents reveal alleged killer and wife had troubled relationship

July 30, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Brandi N. (Killingsworth) Cleeves and Vincent Luke Santucci are shown with Cleeves' daughter, Leia. Kevin M. Cleeves has been charged with murdering his wife and Santucci as well as Santucci's mother, Rosemary L. Holma.
Submitted photo

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — A man accused of killing three people Friday night and fleeing the state with his 4-year-old daughter filed July 6 for custody of the child.

Court documents signed by Kevin M. Cleeves, 35, and his wife, 25-year-old Brandi N. (Killingsworth) Cleeves, reveal a troubled relationship and brief marriage. She claims he held a gun in his hands when their daughter, Leia, was transferred between her separated parents.

At 9 p.m. Friday, Brandi Cleeves, her 28-year-old boyfriend, Vincent Luke Santucci Jr., and his mother, Rosemary Holma, were shot dead in a driveway at 7705 Anthony Highway (Pa. 997) in Quincy Township, Pa., next to Saddle Up Ministries.

Pennsylvania State Police charged Kevin Cleeves, of Waynesboro, with three counts of criminal homicide. He was apprehended early Saturday in Mahoning County, Ohio, with Leia in the car he was driving.

On Monday, Kevin Cleeves waived his right to fight extradition from Ohio during a brief court hearing. The Associated Press reported that Pennsylvania authorities have until Aug. 8 to transport him.

Autopsies on the victims were performed Monday in Allentown, Pa. Results were not available Monday night.

Some of Kevin Cleeves’ co-workers arrived to work Monday morning unaware of what happened over the weekend. He worked at a technology help desk in the evenings for Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe off Pa. 316 in Chambersburg.

“We’re heartbroken. It’s just tragic,” said Scott Heintzelman, vice president of finance and administration.

Colleagues knew Kevin Cleeves, whom they described as quiet, had a “difficult domestic situation” and moved out of his home a few weeks ago, but they were shocked by what happened, Heintzelman said.

“There were no signs of this,” he said.

Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe established a fund for Leia at F&M Trust. The company and some of its employees plan to make continued donations toward her education and health-related needs, and anyone may donate at one of the bank’s branches.

“We’re just trying as a company to have a positive response and show some leadership,” Heintzelman said.

Information about long-term custody of Leia was not immediately available, although police said she remained in law enforcement custody for much of the weekend.

In the existing custody lawsuit in Franklin County, Pa., both of Leia’s parents express a willingness to share custody under certain circumstances. Documents indicate the Cleeveses began a relationship in September 2005, and Leia was born Dec. 28, 2007. Kevin and Brandi Cleeves were married Feb. 29 of this year.

“The parties have lived together at all times since the birth of the child until their recent separation on June 17, 2012, when (Brandi Cleeves) fled the residence to escape from a troubled relationship with” Kevin Cleeves, a filing from Brandi Cleeves states.

She cites physical arguments and his alcohol use. He says his home is a more stable environment, and he was unable to contact Brandi Cleeves for periods of time.

One incident detailed in court documents involves Leia watching Fourth of July fireworks with her mother.

Kevin Cleeves writes that Brandi Cleeves did not appear at the agreed-upon time and location afterward, and her boyfriend’s phone was turned off, so Kevin Cleeves could not reach her. He writes that he received an email from Brandi Cleeves the next day telling him that he needed to reactivate her phone if he wanted to speak to his daughter.

Brandi Cleeves responds that they did not have an agreement about when the child should be returned. She says her husband cut off her cellphone service.

The parties were scheduled for a Sept. 11 meeting with an appointed conciliation officer.

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