Post by budwzer on Oct 11, 2007 2:46:09 GMT -5
Elizabeth Township girl charged in dad's killing
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
By Torsten Ove and Jim McKinnon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A 13-year-old girl fatally shot her father in the face with a shotgun early yesterday morning as he slept in their Elizabeth Township home, according to police.
Rachel Booth was held without bond last night in the Allegheny County Jail, charged as an adult with homicide in the death of Matthew J. Booth, 34. She faces a preliminary hearing Friday.
In an affidavit supporting the arrest, Allegheny County police did not reveal a motive.
Detectives said only that the girl acknowledged that she killed Mr. Booth with his 12-gauge shotgun at 2:21 a.m. on the first floor of 5802 Pitt St., where Mr. Booth lived with the girl and her 14-year-old brother, Matthew Booth Jr.
But a close neighbor said the girl told her that Mr. Booth had sexually and physically abused her since she was 7.
"The whole street knew about it," said Suzanne Gruber, 20, who lives across the street from the Booth home.
"He abused them both," she said. "Some nights I would hear her screaming, 'No, daddy! No! I'm sorry.' She said she just couldn't take it anymore."
Other sources confirmed that allegations of abuse were the motive.
The girl initially told authorities at the Elizabeth police station that someone broke in and killed her father.
But while she was still at the station, Rachel admitted she shot her father, Ms. Gruber said.
Ms. Gruber and other neighbors said Mr. Booth also had physically abused Rachel's brother.
Elizabeth officers discovered Mr. Booth's body lying face up on a bed or couch on the first floor of the home after the children called police. He was pronounced dead at 2:39 a.m.
Officers found deplorable conditions in the house, said James Morton, assistant county police superintendent.
Police discovered numerous animals and pets in the home, which was littered with feces. Animal control officers removed at least four dogs, four cats and a number of rabbits and other pets.
"It was one of the worst houses our detectives have been in," Assistant Superintendent Morton said.
He declined to discuss a motive for the shooting, nor would he provide details about what the children told police.
"It's a delicate situation because of the age of the kids," he said.
The county's Children, Youth and Families agency, which had been involved previously with the Booths, was notified to arrange care for Matthew Booth Jr. He was placed in the custody of his grandparents.
He was not a suspect in the incident.
According to the affidavit, the boy told police that he was in his second-floor bedroom when he heard a "disturbance followed by a single gunshot on the first floor."
He said he found the shotgun near his father's body, opened the gun and ejected the spent shell casing.
Police disclosed no other details of the shooting or its aftermath.
The children's mother, Michelle Fazek, 33, of White Oak, refused to comment on the shooting yesterday, saying she didn't want to say anything that might hurt her daughter's case.
She and Mr. Booth, her ex-boyfriend, have had ongoing domestic and custody battles since 1991, when they first started living together on Beale Street in McKeesport.
They have three children together and were living as a family until 2005, when Ms. Fazek filed a protection-from-abuse petition against Mr. Booth, saying he had threatened her with a shotgun.
Mr. Booth had previously accused Ms. Fazek of abusing the children, according to court records.
Last year, Mr. Booth won temporary custody of Rachel and Matthew. Ms. Fazek won custody of the youngest child, 12-year-old Elizabeth.
Ms. Fazek said she had been trying to get the older children returned to her.
In court papers, she accused Mr. Booth of improperly caring for them, "particularly the daughter Rachel, who is in physical and emotional crisis."
First published at PG NOW on July 30, 2007 at 11:01 pm
Torsten Ove can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-231-0132. Jim McKinnon
hrm ,,,, very sad to me , but then I have to think ,, If he abused her that long , the wife/common knew ?? wtf is that.
in a way i blame her the mother.