Assault Victim Found Beaten, Freezing in Woods, Police Say

Lower Saucon Police Car LSPD
Written by Josh Popichak

Lower Saucon Township Police have filed charges against a Bethlehem city man who they say allegedly assaulted a township man before vandalizing his home; all while the reported victim hid in near-freezing temperatures in woods nearby.

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Lower Saucon Township Police have filed charges against a Bethlehem city man they say allegedly assaulted a township man before vandalizing his home; all while the alleged victim hid in near-freezing temperatures in dense woods nearby.

The incident unfolded early Jan. 3 in the 1800 block of Old Mill Road, where police said residents began calling 911 to report hearing cries for help coming from the area of Old Mill Road and Reading Drive.

In an affidavit of probable cause filed by Ofc. Willie Shelly Jr. in District Court 03-2-04 Jan. 6, Shelly said police who were initially dispatched to that area found and heard nothing, but returned with thermal imaging cameras after more calls were made to 911.

“At this time a heat source resembling a person was detected in the wooded area between the residence…and the Saucon Creek,” Shelly said.

When police reached the man, Shelly said they found him with “extensive injuries to his face” and lightly clothed in only shorts and a thin shirt.

The temperatue at the time was approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit and light rain was falling, and Shelly said the man’s “legs were beginning to turn blue from being cold.”

An ambulance was summoned and the man was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital for  immediate medical attention, but not before telling police “he was assaulted by Richard York and that he believed York was still in his house,” Shelly wrote in the affidavit.

According to the affidavit, with assistance from the Hellertown Police Department Lower Saucon officers then searched the man’s residence and found no sign of York, 26, of the 1700 block of Center Street, but discovered that every room in the house had been vandalized.

Shelly said kitchen cabinet doors were ripped off their hinges, dishes were smashed, a large screen TV was “split in half,” there were holes in the drywall and broken glass littered the floor.

According to the affidavit, there was also blood found in every room, and Cpl. Tim Connell of the Lower Saucon Township Police Department photographed and processed the interior of the house as a crime scene.

At the hospital, Shelly said he interviewed the alleged victim, who he said complained of head and neck pain and exhibited “extreme swelling to his face, dried blood in and on his mouth, dried blood in and on his nose (and) scrapes to both his shins.”

According to the man–who Shelly said was too seriously injured to provide a written statement at that time–on Jan. 2 he and Richard York worked together on roofing jobs in the Philadelphia area.

After work they returned to the man’s home on Old Mill Road, where York allegedly accused him of contacting his (York’s) mother while the two were in the man’s basement bedroom.

According to the affidavit, the man denied contacting York’s mother, which was when York allegedly began to beat him in the face.

Rather than fighting back the man told police he ran from the basement and into the nearby woods where he was later found, the affidavit said.

He then watched from a place of concealment and allegedly saw “Richard York going in and out of the residence yelling, screaming and throwing things,” police said.

The home’s owner–who Shelly said is the alleged victim’s father–was in Florida at the time but returned home within a few days and estimated the damage to his house at $1,500, the criminal complaint said.

In addition to misdemeanor criminal mischief, York has also been charged with summary harassment, misdemeanor simple assault and felony aggravated assault, according to court records.

Following a Jan. 7 preliminary arraignment before District Judge Nicholas Englesson, York was committed to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $100,000 straight bail, according to the records.

A preliminary hearing in his case is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 24 before District Judge Alan Mege at District Court 03-2-04 in Lower Saucon Township, according to the case’s criminal docket.

Note: Individuals charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty. This story was compiled using information from police and public court documents.

About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at josh@sauconsource.com.

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