Murder victim had PFA against ex, who assaulted her at water park
Two months before he murdered his wife and turned the gun on himself, Scott Michael Hoke was enraged that she and their teenage daughter had left him and were, in his mind, trying to send him to jail, court documents reveal.
Police in Northumberland County on July 18 filed charges of simple assault and harassment against the 42-year-old Hoke for physically assaulting wife Susan Hoke, 50, two nights before at Splash Magic Campground, a water park in that county.
Scott Hoke responded by calling Susan Hoke's cellphone 30 times and texting her 50 times, according to her application for a York County protection from abuse order. He sent angry texts to her, including one that stated, "Why are you sending me to jail, (our daughter) doesn't care if I die," according to PFA records.
He also sent their teenage daughter 50 texts messages asking her why she wouldn't call him and stating, "I didn't do anything wrong."
When Susan Hoke — who along with her daughter briefly stayed with friends in the wake of the Splash Magic assault — asked him to leave her and their daughter alone, Scott Hoke reacted violently and demanded to talk to the teen.
He "destroyed" the teen's room, breaking pictures, paintings and seashells she'd collected, then threatened to slash all of his daughter's and wife's clothing if they didn't return home, according to PFA records.
Susan Hoke and her daughter turned off their phones to avoid getting further threats, records state. They moved back home after the PFA was granted, which also evicted Scott Hoke from the family home.
Murder-suicide: On Monday night, Scott Hoke, of 1748 Cemetery Road in North Codorus Township, somehow got inside the Hoke family home at 1250 Summit Run Court and fatally shot his estranged wife in the head, Northern York County Regional Police said. He then fatally shot himself in the head, police said.
It happened shortly after 10:30 p.m. Monday, and responding officers found the couple dead in the kitchen, a handgun still in Scott Hoke's hand, police said.
Their teenage daughter was home at the time but didn't witness the shooting, police said. She escaped physical injury and ran to a neighbor's home to call 911, according to Lt. David Lash.
York County Coroner Pam Gay said the deaths have been ruled a murder-suicide. No autopsies are planned.
Lash said his department hadn't been called to Hoke's home in recent years for anything except service on the PFA.
PFA finalized: Court records show that Susan Hoke went to the Southwestern Regional Police Department on July 17, seeking an emergency PFA for an assault that happened the night of July 16 at Splash Magic Campground in Northumberland County.
Police helped her file the PFA application and also called Point Township Police in Northumberland County, who investigated, and filed charges July 18 against Scott Hoke.
According to charging documents and PFA records, the Hokes were camping at Splash Magic with their daughter and her friend and were cleaning up in expectation of a rainstorm. Susan Hoke asked her husband where he wanted her to place a table, and he told her on a bed, but she said their daughter's friend was sleeping on that bed, documents state.
The assault: Scott Hoke apparently didn't like a look his wife gave him and told her, "I'm tired of your s—" while yanking her ponytail and leaving a large scratch on her back, documents state.
Susan Hoke told her husband, "I'm tired of being treated this way all the time, and if there were a cop here, I would report you," charging documents state.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Scott Hoke replied, "You b—, I try to be nice to you, but you make it really hard. Go ahead and report it, see what happens next," according to the charging documents. He then tried to slam her head onto a picnic table, police said.
The PFA petition states that he told her, "If you're gonna call the cops, I'll show you what I'll do before they get here."
She was able to get away and lock herself in their camper until her husband walked away, at which point she sought out friends at the campground and remained with them until Scott Hoke packed up and left the campsite, according to police. Susan Hoke and her daughter ended up getting a ride home with friends, police said.
'Snotty tone': Scott Hoke later told police his wife had taken a "snotty" tone with him, but twice paused when asked more specific questions by a Point Township police officer.
"This officer asked Scott again how he responded when Susan mentioned the police," charging documents state. "Scott paused for approximately 15 seconds and let out a small chuckle. Scott then stated, 'I don't remember.'"
At his preliminary hearing Aug. 17, the simple assault charge was withdrawn and he pleaded guilty to third-degree misdemeanor harassment, according to court records. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine and court costs.
The PFA: Susan Hoke stated in her PFA petition that she feared what her estranged husband was capable of and alleged that he had previously pushed, grabbed and hit her, court documents state. She also said he was emotionally and mentally abusive to her and their teenage daughter.
On July 18, Susan Hoke was granted the emergency temporary PFA covering her and her daughter, which allowed them to move back home, records state.
The PFA was finalized Aug. 25 and would have been in effect for three years.
Guns not seized: Susan Hoke's PFA petition specifically did not request that her husband's firearms or other weapons be seized by the York County Sheriff's Office or relinquished to one of his family members.
York County Sheriff Richard Keuerleber said his deputies did not seize Scott Hoke's firearms because the final PFA order did not give them the authority to do so.
Deputies did process Scott Hoke through the county's central booking unit after he allegedly violated the PFA on Aug. 9, Keuerleber confirmed.
Lt. Lash, from Northern Regional Police, confirmed officers arrested Scott Hoke on Aug. 9 after he was allegedly seen on the porch of the family home when Susan Hoke wasn't home. Lash confirmed that Scott Hoke was later found not guilty of violating the PFA.
Hanover-based attorney Sam Gates represented Scott Hoke for the PFA proceedings and said his client was found not guilty in part because both of his parents testified that he was with them the entire evening. Scott Hoke was living with his parents, the attorney confirmed.
Gates said his client agreed not to fight the PFA because Susan Hoke agreed to support the Northumberland County deal that allowed Scott Hoke to keep his job. So a full PFA hearing was never held, he said.
Triggering event? The attorney said he had no indication that Scott Hoke would murder his wife.
"I don't know what set off Mr. Hoke," Gates said. "I saw the guy. I talked to him. I met his parents. ... What was the triggering event that put him over the edge?"
The Hokes were still involved in child- and spousal-support matters, he confirmed.
"I've been doing this for 26 years and ... you just never know what's going to set some people off," Gates said.
'Awful tragedy': Attorney George Studzinski of MidPenn Legal Services represented Susan Hoke throughout the PFA process.
"It's awful," he said of the murder-suicide. "It's an awful tragedy, and I feel sorry for everybody (including) her daughter."
Attorney Mark Mack, who represented Scott Hoke in the Northumberland County assault case, did not return a phone message seeking comment.
Northern Regional Police are asking anyone with information to call them at 717-292-3647 or leave a tip online at nycrpd.org.
"We're trying to understand the situation and the relationship, and (identify) precipitating factors that would have led to this incident," Lash said.
Help available: If you are a victim of domestic abuse in York County, help is available by calling these agencies:
- Access-York and the Victim Assistance Center, both part of the YWCA of York — 717-846-5400 or 800-262-8444
- YWCA of Hanover's domestic-violence shelter — 717-637-2235
- Safe Home of Hanover, also part of the YWCA of Hanover — 717-632-0007.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.