Woman, 18, charged in fatal Sunbury stabbing
SUNBURY - An 18-year-old married woman from Selinsgrove who reportedly was paid for female companionship after meeting men through the Internet was charged late Tuesday afternoon with stabbing to death 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara, of Port Trevorton, last month in Sunbury.
Miranda Kamille Barbour, of 101 N. Water St., who recently moved to the area from North Carolina, is accused of stabbing LaFerrara, who also was married, 20 times after she claimed the victim groped her and grabbed her by the neck inside her vehicle in Sunbury. Barbour told police she "blacked out" after stabbing LaFerrara two or three times, then drove around Sunbury for some time while the victim was choking and gasping for air and eventually, discarded his body, cleaned the blood from her vehicle and headed to Harrisburg with her husband to celebrate his birthday.
LaFerrara's body was discovered by neighborhood residents near a garage at the rear of 240 Catawissa Ave. at about 11:30 a.m. Nov. 12.
Authorities reported the stabbing occurred between evening hours of Nov. 11 and 11:26 a.m. Nov. 12.
Barbour was committed to Northumberland County Prison following her 4:40 p.m. arraignment before Magisterial District Judge Benjamin Apfelbaum on felonies of criminal homicide and two counts of aggravated assault and misdemeanors of simple assault and possessing instruments of crime.
Barbour is not eligible for bail because of the homicide charge.
The defendant, who was represented by county public defender Paige Rosini, told Apfelbaum she understood the charges and did not pose any questions to the judge or her attorney. She was ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing Dec. 10 before the judge.
Barbour, who turned herself into Selinsgrove state police at 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and underwent an extensive interview with authorities, was escorted to Apfelbaum's office by Sunbury Chief of Police Steve Mazzeo, arresting officers Travis Bremigen and Sgt. Christopher Blase, Cpl. Jamie Quinn and Patrolman Bradley Hare.
District Attorney Tony Rosini, who later conducted a brief press conference with Mazzeo at Sunbury Police Station, also attended the arraignment.
An autopsy conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. Rameen Starling-Romey at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown revealed that LaFerrara died from multiple sharp force trauma. In addition to being stabbed 20 times, the doctor did not rule out the possibility that the victim was strangled.
Upon searching the victim's body, police found a Verizon cell phone bearing a traceable number in his pocket.
Police later learned from LaFerrara's mother, Harriet LaFerrara, that she last saw her son at her residence in the Selinsgrove area at 8:15 p.m. Nov. 11. She told police her son was driving his black Chevy S-10 pickup truck when he left her house. The truck was recovered Nov. 13 in the Susquehanna Valley Mall parking lot.
After obtaining phone records for the victim's cell phone number, investigators determined the last phone call LaFerrara received on Nov. 11 was from a phone number which was later traced to a phone owned by Barbour's husband, Elyette Barbour. Police said the address listed for the phone account was 557 Tart Road W, Dunn, N.C.
Police said Miranda Barbour is accused of calling LaFerrara twice on Nov. 11, which each call lasting 21 seconds.
The following text messages were recovered from the victim's phone after a search warrant was obtained:
"Alright, I'm pretty close to the mall."
"I'm dropping my daughter off right now, then I'll be at the mall in about 15."
I'm here. I don't see you."
"I am so sketched out right now. I will wait 10 more minutes."
Police said the text messages that were eventually traced to the defendant were the last known communications with the victim.
Through the course of their investigation, police learned that Miranda Barbour had transferred her North Carolina registration on her 2001 Honda to a Pennsylvania registration and had identified her cell phone number to Nathan Tillford, owner of Keystone Tag and Title Service.
Police later discovered that Barbour, her husband, their small child, Valerie Spring, Spring's two children, Shamus Dietz and Alyssa Shemory resided at 101 N. Water St., Selinsgrove.
Police reported the defendant agreed to come voluntarily to the state police station in Selinsgrove on Monday for an interview involving the homicide investigation.
Upon being informed of her Miranda rights, Barbour agreed to speak with police without an attorney.
Barbour said she was aware of a stabbing involving the death of a male in Sunbury, but denied knowing LaFerrara when presented a picture of him.
The defendant said she moved to the Selinsgrove area with her family from North Carolina near the end of October.
When asked about the messages they recovered from LaFerrara's phone, Barbour admitted making contact with a male on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 via the Internet site Craigslist. Barbour told police she would sometimes meet other men who want female companionship and that she would be compensated with money.
The defendant admitted talking with and text messaging LaFerrara several times Nov. 11 while attempting to meet up with him. Barbour said she pulled into the Susquehanna Valley Mall parking lot and had conversations with the victim via cell phone, but never met with LaFarrera.
Elytte Barbour and Dietz told police during an interview that started Monday night and finished early Tuesday morning that the defendant met individuals on Internet sites and that she carries a knife with her during the encounters.
Police said the defendant returned to the state police station and requested to speak with an investigator and give a statement about the incident.
Barbour told police she met LaFerrara on Craigslist, but didn't know his name or what he looked like. She said they eventually decided to meet at the mall at about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 11. She said they got into Barbour's vehicle and drove to Sunbury, where LaFerrara directed her to pull over at a specific spot.
When they were parked, Barbour claimed LaFerrara reached over and started groping her, touching her private parts. She also claimed LaFerrara had his hand around her throat.
Barbour said then retrieved a knife from between the front seats with her left hand and started stabbing the victim. She said the first two or three times she stabbed him, there was no reaction from the victim. She then started blacking out and didn't remember the rest of the time she was stabbing him, police said.
Barbour told authorities she then drove around Sunbury for a period of time. She stated the victim was still alive at the time because he was choking and gasping for air. She told police she was looking for a secluded spot before ultimately driving to the rear of 240 Catawissa Ave.
Barbour said she exited her vehicle and walked around to the passenger side door and opened it. Barbour said LaFerrara was leaning against the door and fell out onto the ground. But she said his foot was still in the vehicle, prompting her to lift it out onto the ground. She then took LaFerrara's wallet from his pants and got back into the vehicle. As she attempted to leave, Barbour said her tires started spinning for some unknown reason.
Barbour said she then drove around Sunbury and got lost before using her Garmen to find her way out of Sunbury. She then stopped at Walmart along Routes 11-15 to purchase garbage bags, carpet cleaner, paper towels and seat covers before stopping at a park in Selinsgrove, where she attempted clean blood out of her car.
She told police there was a lot of blood and she wasn't able to get rid of it all. After discarding the paper towels in a Dumpster, Barbour returned to her residence before traveling to Harrisburg with her husband to celebrate his birthday.
Barbour said she discarded the knife she used to stab LaFerrara into the Susquehanna River along Routes 11-15 south of Selinsgrove about five days ago.
The defendant said she told her husband about the stabbing just before coming to the police station Tuesday for the interview.
At the press conference, Rosini and Mazzeo commended all the officers involved in the high-tech investigation that required following an "electronic trail" of calls. Mazzeo said there are some "unresolved issues" in the investigation that he expects will take several weeks for the homicide task force to clear up.
But Barbour is believed to be the only suspect in the case.