Amish country murder: Red Jeep, Nike sneakers led cops to pregnant mom’s suspected killer

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He tried to cover his tracks, but police found him within days of the murder of a pregnant Amish woman in front of her other children, according to search warrant returns unsealed over the weekend. It is said that he had come before.

Documents related to the murder of Rebecca Byler in her Sparta Township home also reveal that she and her husband saw a suspicious man wandering around their property two weeks before the brutal murder. It has become.

Sean Cranston, a 52-year-old truck driver, appears to match the description of a man the Bylers encountered around 10 p.m. one night in early February.

Pennsylvania Amish Murder: No motive for pregnant woman’s murder, but witnesses saw suspect’s car at scene

Sean C. Cranston is accused of killing a pregnant Amish woman in her rural home last month. (Crawford County Correctional Facility, via AP)

Byler’s husband, Andy, told police he spotted a “white bald male with a white beard” on his property after dark and confronted him. He said the trespasser asked about buying the house. Beiler said the man then left, possibly in a red car, but it was dark so he couldn’t be sure.

Several other witnesses also reported seeing a red Jeep Patriot in the countryside several weeks before the murder. Police now say the car belongs to the suspect’s wife.

Cranston is accused of stabbing and shooting 23-year-old Rebecca Byler in her living room on the morning of February 26th. Her 3-year-old son told detectives he saw a “guy in sneakers” parked in his truck and asked him to come. Stay inside and kill her mother. She was six months pregnant.

Surveillance video taken outside the Sparta Sportsman Gun Club shows Cranston’s red Jeep Patriot near the victim’s home around 9 a.m. on the day of the killing, police said.

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A group of Amish men cross the brick road to the Pennsylvania courthouse.

A group of Amish arrive at the Crawford County Justice Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania, for the preliminary hearing of Sean Christopher Cranston on Friday, March 15, 2024. Cranston is being held in connection with the murder of Rebecca A. Byler and her unborn child. February 26, 2024 at her home. (AP Photo/Jean J. Pasker)

State police obtained a search warrant for Cranston’s Jeep, residence and DNA. They also obtained surveillance video from across the street that allegedly showed him repeatedly removing items from the Jeep and carrying them out of sight, as well as smoke coming from a fire that appeared to be in the yard.

According to the warrant, three key pieces of evidence at the crime scene matched items recovered from Cranston’s home. Although the Bylers did not own the Nike Air Force sneakers, there were footprints of the shoes at the crime scene and a pair at the Cranston home. The Jeep’s treads reportedly matched tire marks left at the crime scene.

A box of patterned nitrile gloves taken from Cranston’s home matched pieces of rubber left at the crime scene. The Bylers did not own such gloves, according to the warrant.

Witnesses told police Cranston made them feel “uneasy” and had “a very strange experience” after working as a stand-in for William Byler, 63, in a red Jeep Patriot. He said he did.

Amish men line up outside a Pennsylvania courthouse

A group of Amish leave the Crawford County Justice Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania, after a preliminary hearing for Sean C. Cranston on Friday, March 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Jean J. Pasker)

On one occasion, he showed up uninvited, dressed all in black and carrying a holstered pistol, “wandering aimlessly around their property looking out at the fields” and making unintelligible statements. They started talking about it.

Witnesses provided phone numbers and police contacted Cranston, who lives about 20 miles north in Corry.

Cranston’s neighbors told investigators they believed Cranston was a member of the War Dogs biker gang, described as an outlaw club affiliated with the Hells Angels. Mr. Cranston is said to be the local chapter’s “sergeant major” and uses the alias “Rumble.”

Police seized six guns and numerous boxes of ammunition from Cranston’s home. But in court last week, prosecutors said they had not found the murder weapon.

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Rebecca Byler's home on Fish Flats Road in Sparta Township

Investigators in the death of Rebecca Byler, a 23-year-old Amish woman in Sparta Township, Crawford County, say her body was found inside her Fish Flats Road home, pictured. He said he had injuries. (Tim Hahn/Erie Times News/USA Today Network)

According to the warrant, Byler’s husband was away for about four hours the morning of the murder, doing surveying work at construction sites around Crawford and Venango counties.

He and his driver, Julie Warner, returned home at around 12:30pm and encountered a gruesome crime scene.

Responding officers found Beiler suffering from a “scalping wound” to the neck, which a forensic pathologist later determined was actually caused by a gunshot wound to the head. did.


Police arrested Cranston on March 2. He is charged with murder, unborn child murder, felony robbery and criminal trespass. His past criminal history includes guilty pleas to reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.

He is being held without bail.