Police: Woman fatally shot while holding baby in West Manheim home

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Joshua John Wertz

A West Manheim Township man fatally shot his girlfriend in the head early Sunday morning with an AR-15 rifle apparently after the couple, who had been drinking, argued, according to charging documents.

"(G)et up dad; I shot her in the face," Joshua John Wertz allegedly screamed to his father, then started talking about killing himself, documents state.

Killed was Nicole Cash, 26, of McSherrystown, Adams County, according to the York County Coroner's Office. Her cause and manner of death haven't yet been ruled on, pending an autopsy scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital, the coroner's office said.

Cash was apparently holding her 9-month-old son in her arms when Wertz shot her, according to charging documents filed by West Manheim Township Police. Wertz lives in the basement of his father's home, documents indicate.

When officers arrived at the scene, Wertz's father was holding the baby, who was covered in his mother's blood, charging documents state.

Wertz, 30, of the first block of Sunset Drive, is in York County Prison without bail, charged with homicide. It is unclear if he has retained an attorney.

911 call: Wertz's father called 911 about 12:50 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, and Wertz at one point got on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, police said.

He told the dispatcher he and Cash had been drinking and got in an argument, according to police.

"Defendant stated that he had an AR-15 rifle in his possession, and when Nicole went to grab the rifle it went off through her head," charging documents state.

Before police arrived, Wertz said, "I'm gonna spend the rest of my life in jail," documents allege.

His father, Lewis Wertz, told police that his son and Cash "fight a lot and argue and he's heard them yelling(,) screaming and arguing," documents state.

Lewis Wertz also confirmed to police that his son told him, "I shot her; she reached for the gun and I shot her" and claimed he didn't know the rifle was loaded, according to charging documents.

Joshua John Wertz

Lewis Wertz said his son was "calm as could be" while making that statement and felt his son could be in shock, documents state.

When officers asked Lewis Wertz why his son shot Cash, the father said Joshua Wertz "said something about her disrespecting him," then told his father to "call the police, have me arrested," documents state.

'Violent drunk'? Joshua Wertz's father told police his son is a violent drunk, according to charging documents.

It wasn't immediately known whether Joshua Wertz is the father of Cash's 9-month-old son or whether the baby was injured. West Manheim Township Police did not return a phone message seeking comment on Monday, Oct. 14.

After being arrested and placed in the rear of a police cruiser, Joshua Wertz told officers, "I told that girl don't touch my rifle while it's loaded and what does she do she goes dicking with it and of course she blows her f—ing head off and then I take the rifle ... and put it on the f—ing floor," documents state.

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He apparently made the statement without being prompted, according to police.

"At no point during my interaction with the defendant was he asked questions relating to the investigation due to the defendant's level of intoxication," investigating Officer Justin Seibert wrote in charging documents.

Seibert did ask Joshua Wertz whether he was all right, meaning was he injured, and he replied, "My girlfriend is dead dude, because she wanted to grab a f—ing rifle I was dicking with," documents state.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.