by David Croyle
A 30-year-old Sugarcreek Township man was arraigned on Saturday for the death of his father.
George Burdette III is accused of murdering his father, 59-year-old George Burdete Jr., at his home on July 12, according to District Attorney Scott Andreassi.
“Based on the investigation, we believe it happened this way. On the evening of July 11th late, we believe that Burdette Jr. and Burdette III got into a dispute. We believe that is when the homicide occurred,” Andreassi said.
The father, son, and son’s girlfriend, 28-year-old Cheyanna Lebaron, were living at the father’s trailer located at 291 Little Road. According to a statement given to police by Lebaron, the son entered his father’s house with a wooden baseball bat at approximately 11PM. The father was on the couch. The son took a cup of bleach and threw it into the father’s face to disorient him. Then the son began to strike the father on the head with the bat. The father lost consciousness after several blows. The son and Lebaron stayed the night until about 5AM. The couple then took the father’s body and drove it to a wooded area about two miles from the residence just off of Burns Hill Road in Sugarcreek Township. They used a metal dolly to move his body further into the woods.
According the Andreassi, the couple returned to the residence. Lebaron stated that the son then lit a mattress on fire.
“We believe that Burdette III set the trailer on fire. That phone call came in to 9-1-1 reporting the fire at approximately 6AM on July 12.”
Pennsylvania State Police Crime Section Sgt. Rick Fennell said other family members became concerned when the father could not be reached on his cell phone after the fire. The son told police that he had seen his father leave in a blue Pontiac Sunfire vehicle with an unknown woman. On July 13, his niece, Laura Krizmanich, filed a missing person report, relating their concern.
Meanwhile, on Friday evening, July 14, the son was arrested on unrelated charges of possession of a gun by a felon. The son had been incarcerated in the state penitentiary for robbery. He had been living with his father since his release several months ago.
Lebaron took police at 3AM on Saturday, July 15 to the wooded area and showed them the location of the body. The metal dolly was located a short distance from the body.
Armstrong County Coroner Brian Myers said an autopsy was performed by Dr. Cyril Wecht confirming the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head.
The son was arraigned at approximately 12 noon on Saturday in the courtroom of District Magisterial Judge Gary DeComo in Ford City. He was then brought back to the Pennsylvania State Police Kittanning barracks for processing before returning to the Armstrong County Jail.
Andreassi said that Lebaron cooperated with police and would not comment if future charges would be filed against her as an accomplice to the murder.