Police: Spring Grove killer likely planned attack on neighbor
A Spring Grove man who allegedly crept into the home of his neighbor and fatally stabbed her over the weekend claimed he did so when she interrupted him burglarizing her, charging documents state.
But Southwestern Regional Police Chief Greg Bean told The York Dispatch that evidence shows he apparently went into Samantha Stein's home with ill intent.
Stein, 24, of the first block of North Main Street, was found dead in her house shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, by her fiance when he came home from work, according to charging documents.
She suffered numerous stab wounds, police said.
"What we do know for sure is that it appears his intent was to possibly cause some harm," Bean said. "We know that because he took the knife with him."
There are other indicators of 59-year-old Raymond William Heck Sr.'s plans, according to the chief.
"We know that he cut the wires to the outside cameras to the victim's residence (before breaking in)," he said. "That would contribute to the idea that it was a planned attack."
Heck wore gloves and disguised his appearance, Bean said. Police said surveillance-camera footage from nearby showed a man walking into Stein's home then later leaving with a box and a large trash bag.
Befriended neighbor: Stein — who has one child and two stepchildren — had befriended Heck months ago, and he would occasionally walk her to a nearby bus stop, charging documents state.
They visited each other's homes and communicated frequently, police said.
But something changed.
"At some point Samantha took steps to limit or block communications with (Heck)," documents state. "But he persisted in contacting her."
The two weren't close friends, according to Bean.
"She pulled back from the relationship, and then this happened," he said.
An autopsy Monday, Dec. 18, at Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital confirmed Stein died of her wounds, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay, who has ruled the death a homicide.
Stein and Heck were neighbors for about eight months to a year, according to Southwestern Regional Detective Lisa Layden, who is lead investigator in the case.
"(Heck) liked Samantha and indicated that he hoped for something more than friendship between them," Layden wrote in charging documents.
Evidence seized: A police search of the area near Heck's home yielded a knife and items believed to be stolen from Stein's home during the fatal attack, police said.
Charging documents indicate Heck stole a PlayStation, two cellphones, a lockbox and a webcam from Stein's home, items with a total value of less than $1,200.
"A bag of clothing was discovered further southwest than the location where the knife was found," Layden wrote. "The bag contains dark clothing (that) ... appears to be blood-stained and similar to the clothing observed on the footage of a person entering the victim's home."
After being arrested, Heck told investigators he went into Stein's home to steal property but had to "cut her" after "inadvertently" waking her up, charging documents allege. Heck claimed Stein struggled with him after finding him in her home, police said.
Bean said Heck lived close enough to Stein that he would know her comings and goings and would have known she was home in the early-morning hours of Dec. 16, when police said he crept into her home and killed her.
Stein's child and two stepchildren were upstairs when the homicide occurred, according to the chief. All three escaped injury, he said.
Helping the family: Amber McKinsey said she's trying to make the holidays a bit easer for the grieving family. McKinsey said she knew Stein as a customer in Spring Grove's Dollar General store on Thistle Hill Drive, which McKinsey manages.
McKinsey has started two campaigns — one to collect holiday gifts for Stein's children, and the other to raise money to help with funeral expenses.
"It really hit home for me," McKinsey said of Stein's death, adding the two are about the same age.
She said Stein was always polite and energetic, and she clearly loved being a mother.
"We're trying to look out for the children at this point," McKinsey said.
To help with funeral expenses, go to www.gofundme.com/help-for-family-of-samantha-stein, where the fund is hoping to raise $5,000.
Children's gifts: People who'd like to help Stein's children can donate gift cards and unwrapped new gifts. No weapons or toys of violence, please. Stein's stepsons are 6 and 10 years old; her daughter is 4 years old, according to Facebook posts.
For more information on the gift campaign, visit www.facebook.com/events/2032804733664984/?active_tab=discussion.
Heck, of 37 N. Main St., remains in York County Prison without bail, charged with homicide, burglary and receiving stolen property. It is unclear if he has retained an attorney.
Bean said Southwestern Regional Police were familiar with Heck, who walked around the borough quite a bit.
"We would see him and talk to him," the chief said. "He wasn't anyone we suspected of crimes previously."
Other crimes? Police have said it's possible Stein's homicide could be related to several crimes that happened over the past three months.
"We had an arson at the residence next to this and several criminal mischiefs," Sgt. Jamie Stalcup said over the weekend.
That mischief includes recent incidents of vandalism to the victim's cars, police said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.