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Police: Red Lion-area woman killed in Md., boyfriend charged

Liz Evans Scolforo, 505-5429/@LizScolforoYD
  • Police said Rebekah Strausbaugh was strangled by Michael Morant as they argued along I-83 in Maryland.
  • Domestic violence victims can find help through Access-York. Reach the agency at (717) 846-5400 or (800) 262-8444.

The body of a missing Windsor Township woman was found Monday night along Interstate 83 in Baltimore County, Maryland, and she is the victim of a homicide, according to York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon.

Rebekah Strausbaugh

An autopsy Tuesday by the Maryland Medical Examiner's Office determined Rebekah J. Strausbaugh died of strangulation, and her death has been ruled a homicide, according to Cpl. John Wachter, spokesman for Baltimore County Police.

One of Strausbaugh's family members reported her missing from her Cambridge Drive home over the weekend, at which point investigators obtained a search warrant for the home where she lived with her boyfriend, Damon said.

The York County Forensic Unit searched the home Monday afternoon. At the same time, investigators interviewed her boyfriend, Damon said.

Police investigate the Windsor Township home of Rebekah J. Strausbaugh Monday, June 27, 2016, after she was reported missing. Authorities later discovered her body near I-83 in Maryland. Sean Cotter photo

The chief declined to release specifics of the interview but said as a result of it, the police began searching for the woman's body and alerted Baltimore County Police.

"We knew (the body) was along 83 somewhere," Damon said. "Originally we thought it would be in the southern end of York County. ... We were unsuccessful."

Baltimore County Police found the body of the 30-year-old Strausbaugh in Sparks, Maryland, about 10:30 p.m. Monday, according to Damon.

Michael Morant

Wachter said in a news release that Strausbaugh went to Baltimore for the weekend but didn't return.

Picked up by boyfriend: Strausbaugh's live-in boyfriend, Michael Anthony Morant, drove down to look for her and found her at the Shake Shack restaurant on Pratt Street, Wachter said. They got into his car to head home, he said.

During the ride, the couple began to argue, at which point Morant pulled off I-83 near Ensor Mill and Belfast roads in Sparks, and both got out of the car and continued to argue, the corporal said.

The argument turned physical, "resulting in injuries to Strausbaugh that left her unresponsive," Wachter wrote in a news release. "When Strausbaugh did not respond to Morant, he drug her body into the woods and covered her with a blanket."

Strausbaugh's body was found in the woods in the 15500 block of Ensor Mill Road and was taken to the Maryland Medical Examiner's Office, police said.

Homicide victim Rebekah Strausbaugh and boyfriend Michael Morant, accused of strangling her.
(Photo courtesy of Facebook)

No bail: Morant, 48, of 275 Cambridge Drive, is charged with first-degree murder and was committed to the Baltimore County Detention Center without bail, Wachter said.

The case remains under investigation by Baltimore County homicide detectives, he said.

Damon said his department will assist Baltimore County Police in any way possible.

"We probably have collected some evidence that they would be interested in having," he said.

Morant in January posted a black-and-white photo on Facebook of himself with Strausbaugh, commenting, "I am very happy I have the love of my life" and "I found my queen."

Common themes connect domestic murders, experts say

Loud fight: Scott Barshinger, who lives across the street on Cambridge Drive, said the property at 275 was the house he and his wife always wondered about. A few weeks before, the couple living there — Strausbaugh and Morant — had a loud argument, audible to everyone around.

But, he said, to the public eye that was the exception rather than the rule.

“It was always quiet, except for that day,” Barshinger said Monday night.

York County team delves into deadly tragedies to fight domestic violence

He said many police officers had been around the area that morning. One had asked his wife questions, including whether she had seen any activity around the house the past few days, whether she had seen any cars coming or going.

As Barshinger spoke, he stood in his driveway, looking across the street at the humming York County Forensic Unit vehicle that had been parked in the driveway of 275 since the early afternoon, he said.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD. Staff writer Sean Philip Cotter contributed to this report.