A 49-year-old Bethlehem man is charged with one count of criminal homicide after police and prosecutors say they literally found him with blood on his hands at his mother’s home in Lower Saucon Township, Northampton County, Monday.
At a press conference at the township building Monday afternoon, Northampton County Coroner Zachary Lysek identified the victim as 70-year-old Mary Anne E. Looby, of 1997 West Point Drive, which is a small cul-de-sac near the intersection of Bingen and Hickory Hill roads, not far from Lehigh University’s Goodman Campus.
Township Police Chief Tom Barndt and Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Mary Anne Looby’s son, Philip Patrick Looby, 49, of East Fourth Street, has been charged in her killing and was taken into custody at the home without incident.
Morganelli stressed that although an arrest has been made, the criminal investigation into the homicide is “really in the early stages.”
“We were dispatched at approximately 9:25 this morning to an address on West Point Drive after receiving a call for an assist for the Bethlehem city police department,” Barndt said, in outlining the timeline of events that led to the discovery of the victim’s body. “It was a welfare check at the residence, and upon arriving the first two arriving officers made contact at the door with a male, identified as Mr. Looby, and further investigation revealed a deceased body inside the residence.”
“Mr. Looby was subsequently taken into custody at the scene and transported back to headquarters,” Barndt said, adding that his department was assisted at the scene by the DA’s office, the Pennsylvania State Police criminal and SVU units and the coroner’s office.
Barndt said he was unsure whose call to the Bethlehem Police Department prompted the welfare check that led to the discovery of a homicide scene at the Looby residence, although it was revealed at the news conference that Philip Looby may have earlier phoned a friend.
Lysek said he determined that Mary Anne Looby’s death was “caused by homicidal violence” and her manner of death is classified a homicide. Additional information about the cause of her death will be released following a forensic autopsy, which Northampton County First Assistant District Attorney Terry Houck said is scheduled for Tuesday.
Houck said Looby’s death hadn’t occurred immediately prior to the police’s arrival at the scene, which was when Philip Looby was allegedly found with blood on his hands and his person.
“She appeared to have been there for a little bit,” he said. “We’ll get more clarification on that tomorrow.”
Houck said whatever type of weapon was used in the killing will also be made more clear following the autopsy.
Lower Saucon Township Police Det. Christopher Leidy also declined to say how Mary Anne Looby may have been killed, but said evidence collected at the scene will hopefully help to determine that.
In response to a question from a reporter, Lysek said Mary Anne Looby was found on the first floor of her two-story home, but declined to say exactly where in the home her body was found. He said that in spite of pre-existing medical conditions she was “ambulatory.”
Philip Looby was committed to Northampton County Prison without bail following a preliminary arraignment before District Judge Alan Mege at Northampton County District Court 03-2-04 in Lower Saucon Township Monday afternoon.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. before Judge Mege.
The crime rattled area residents, who live in an idyllic suburban neighborhood where violent crime is rare and homicide is practically unheard of.
For some the case brought back memories of the 1997 murder of realtor Charlotte Fimiano in a vacant home she was showing on Chelsea Lane in Lower Saucon Township, although that case remains unsolved to this day and is considered a cold case by Pennsylvania State Police.