National News

Pregnant Amish woman was shot in head, 3-year-old son saw her killer come into their house: Court documents

todayMarch 25, 2024


Oliver Helbig/Getty Images

(SPARTA, Penn.) — A pregnant Amish woman’s 2-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son were home when she was attacked and killed, and the 3-year-old saw the killer, according to newly unsealed court documents.

The 3-year-old told police a green truck pulled into their driveway and a man wearing sneakers came inside their Sparta Township, Pennsylvania, home and killed his mom, the documents said.

Rebekah Byler, 23, was shot in the head and suffered multiple sharp force wounds to the neck in the Feb. 26 attack, according to court documents.

Shawn Cranston, 52, from Corry, Pennsylvania, was arrested on March 2 and faces charges of criminal homicide, criminal homicide of an unborn child, burglary and criminal trespass, according to police. He has not entered a plea and his public defender did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Julie Warner, a driver for the victim’s family, said at about 8:15 a.m. on the day of the murder, she picked up the victim’s husband, Andy Byler, from his home to drive him to job sites, court documents said. When Warner and Andy Byler arrived back at his house that afternoon, they found Rebekah Byler dead, the documents said.

A surveillance camera captured a red Jeep leave Cranston’s home on the morning of the murder between 8:39 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., and the Jeep returned to Cranston’s house between 1:55 p.m. and 2:02 p.m., according to the newly unsealed court documents.

That afternoon, the video showed a white, apparently bald man at Cranston’s home moving items in and out of a red Jeep, and then an apparent fire started, the documents said.

A piece of a rubber glove recovered from the crime scene appears to match a glove found in the trash at Cranston’s home, according to the documents, and the tire tread on Cranston’s red Jeep appears to resemble the tire tread impressions found at the crime scene.

Andy Byler told police that about two weeks before his wife’s murder, a suspicious person arrived at their home at night, the documents said. Andy Byler said a bald, white man with a white beard came to the house, and “when confronted, the male inquired about purchasing the house,” the documents said.

A woman who lives near the victim, Katie Byler, told police that a man named John had been a driver for her husband, whom she’s recently separated from, the documents said. When John wasn’t available one day, John suggested his dad, Shawn, could work as a driver, the court documents said. The husband “accepted the ride from Shawn and immediately got an uneasy feeling about him,” the documents said.

Katie Byler and the two people she lives with told police that, from December to February, they “had very odd experiences with this individual they know as Shawn,” the documents said.

They told police that after Shawn gave Katie Byler’s husband a ride, “Shawn would randomly show up at their residence,” the documents said.

“On one occasion, Shawn drove a Jeep to their residence and parked in their driveway,” the documents said.

They said Shawn — wearing all black and carrying a small pistol in a holster on his belt — “was walking around their property looking aimlessly into their fields and his speech made no sense,” the court documents said. “He was inquiring as to when and where they attend church and that he wished to go with him.”

A neighbor of Rebekah Byler told police that 10 days before the murder, a bald, white man driving a red SUV pulled into her driveway, the documents said. The man then backed out of the driveway and drove toward Rebekah Byler’s house, she told police.

One woman was shown a photo of Cranston’s car, and she confirmed that she saw that car drive by 10 days before the murder, and she “indicated she believed” the driver’s first name was Shawn, according to the documents.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Written by:



WMEX Boston can be heard at 1510 AM, and 101.1 FM. Playing the greatest hits from 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and more!