Probation for machete-wielding Windsor Twp. man who attacked parents

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Shannon Silknitter

A convicted pipe bomber who attacked his parents with a machete in 2017 has been sentenced to probation. He also was ordered to have no contact whatsoever with his father.

Shannon Silknitter has been held in York County Prison for more than 2½ years — since Feb. 26, 2017 — after being arrested for the bloody attack, during which he threatened to cut off his father's head, according to court records.

Now 32, Silknitter spent most of a decade in federal prison for a pipe-bomb spree during which he and others damaged mailboxes and parts of an occupied home and tried to blow up a cow.

He was living with his parents in Windsor Township at the time he attacked them, police have said.

Six years' probation: Silknitter pleaded guilty but mentally ill in March to two counts of aggravated assault, escape, reckless endangerment, making terroristic threats and other offenses, according to court records.

He appeared in York County Court on Monday, Sept. 30, where he was sentenced to six years of probation and ordered to have no contact  with his father, court records state.

He also is forbidden from having abusive contact with his mother.

His sentence requires him to attend weekly counseling meetings and to have a medicine plan in place before being released.

However, once released from county custody Silknitter will be taken into custody by federal authorities, who have filed a detainer against him for violating his federal probation by incurring new charges, officials said.

Defense attorney Tom Gregory confirmed Silknitter will likely have to serve additional federal prison time for violating the terms of his federal probation.

The attack: Court documents state Silknitter grabbed his mother, Barbara Silknitter, and pushed her against a wall because she confronted him about him slamming his bedroom door and cursing and yelling.

His father, Robert Silknitter, confronted him about being physical with his mother, documents state. Both Shannon Silknitter and his mother maintained he hadn't done anything to her, police said.

Both parents went downstairs, where Barbara Silknitter admitted their son grabbed her after her husband said he wanted to know the truth, documents state.

At that point, Shannon Silknitter came downstairs and attacked his father, according to police.

"He punched him over and over again in the head and body, knocking him to the ground, and sat on his (father's) chest as he continued to punch him," documents state.

Robert Silknitter was able to struggle free after his wife distracted their son, police said.

That's when Shannon Silknitter went back to his room, retrieved a machete and started back down the stairs, according to police.

Chased outside: At that point, Robert Silknitter yelled, "He has a knife!" and grabbed for his wife, and they both fled outside — but their son gave chase, documents state.

"Shannon swung the machete at his mother as they exited the back door, striking her in the back of the head," then once again turned his attention to his father, documents state.

He held the machete above his head and started to swing it at his father, who was able to grab his son's hand and stop him, at which point both men went to the ground as they struggled, documents allege.

Barbara Silknitter grabbed her son's arm as he was again swinging the machete at his father, slowing the swing, police said. At the same time, Robert Silknitter grabbed the machete, cutting his hand and fingers in the process, according to police.

Robert Silknitter eventually took the machete from his son and threw it into a neighboring yard, which is when his son threatened to cut off his head, police said.

Arriving officers arrested Shannon Silknitter — who was covered in his father's blood — and placed him in the back of a cruiser, where he kicked a window off its track and damaged the window frame, according to documents.

He'd been handcuffed behind his back but managed to get his still-cuffed hands in front of him while in the back of the cruiser, police said.

When officers opened the cruiser's back door, Shannon Silknitter took off, running about 30 feet before being tackled.

Barbara Silknitter suffered a cut to the back of her head, and Robert Silknitter suffered cuts to his right hand and fingers, police said. Both were examined at the scene by an ambulance crew.

Pipe-bomb case: In August 2006, Shannon Silknitter and brothers Zachary and Stephen Beck were each sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for setting off homemade pipe bombs that twice damaged an occupied home and destroyed several mailboxes.

They set off two pipe bombs at a home on Mount Olivet Road in North Hopewell Township on Oct. 18 and 20, 2005, causing more than $27,000 in damage, police have said. The family inside escaped injury both times.

The three men pleaded guilty to York County charges as well and received probationary sentences that were to begin after their release from federal prison.

One of the two house explosions blew through exterior and interior walls and into the house, according to police.

Shannon Silknitter also pleaded guilty in York County Court to animal cruelty for throwing a lighted pipe bomb at a cow, which was unhurt, prosecutors said at the time.

He was released from prison June 1, 2015, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Since his release, he was twice charged in York County with, and pleaded guilty to, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.