UPDATED Tues. Feb. 7, 2014 at 3 AM:
Extradition proceedings are underway for a man who was in possession of a car belonging to a murdered Tamaqua woman.
According to a story in the Times News newspaper, Anthony Darrell Heath, 24, of Allentown, is currently charged with theft of a motor vehicle. Jean Engler, an assistant district attorney in Carbon County, said it is believed Heath used the vehicle in Carbon and Lehigh counties.
The story adds that if Heath waives an extradition hearing, he could be brought to Carbon County on the charge within a few days. Although, if he fights the extradition, it could be weeks before he’s brought here.
The body of 35-year old Angela Serfass-Steigerwalt, of Tamaqua, was found on Saturday (Feb. 2, 2014) after firefighters were called to Flagstaff Road in Jim Thorpe for a reported brush fire.
Reports state that Steigerwalt may have been bound before being set ablaze. According to court papers, Pennsylvania State Police reported seeing “the victim’s body, with what appeared to be a metal wires around the neck and also there were additional metal wires located underneath a wooden pole where what appeared to be legs would have been bound.”
In addition, the report added that a Wal-Mart bag and receipt were found in the area. As per court papers, items listed on the receipt were “plastic tote, lighter fluid, and a lighter.”
Police investigators went to a Wal-Mart near Allentown and viewed surveillance footage of a black male making purchases on the video. According to WNEP TV’s story, State Troopers believe Anthony Heath is the man seen at that Wal-Mart.
A North Carolina newspaper’s website (Kinston.com) named Heath in relation to the recent homicide case of a Tamaqua woman. Steigerwalt’s burning body was found by firefighters along Flagstaff Road in Jim Thorpe Saturday morning while responding to a reported brush fire.
According to a Kinston.com story, Heath was pulled over Sunday morning in Kinston, North Carolina by Kinston Police after the Kinston Department of Public Safety was contacted by On-Star (a satellite vehicle navigation and security service) about a stolen silver 2010 Buick Lacrosse from Pennsylvania that was entering Kinston on near the 1400 block of U.S. 258 North at 11:06 AM. Following a 5-minute standoff, Heath was taken into custody without incident.
Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office and N.C. Highway Patrol assisted in taking Heath into custody at Lenoir County Jail; where he remains with no bond.
The vehicle was seized and investigators in both states are still working in the investigation.
Kinston.com stated that Heath is currently being charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of marijuana and resist, obstruct and delay.
Law officials are also determining if Heath will be charged regarding Steigerwalt’s murder.
An autopsy was conducted at the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest on Monday.
Carbon County Coroner Bruce Nalesnik stated the cause of death as “a criminal homicide.” He added that dental records were used to identify the victim. Family, in a prior statement, said that she was strangled.
Numerous law enforcement agencies are working together in the investigation. They PA State Police - Troop N Major Case Team, PA State Police - Troop M, Jim Thorpe Police Department, Tamaqua Police Department and the coroner’s office.
Steigerwalt was last seen by family members Friday when she left for her second shift at Kraft Foods in Fogelsville.
“The Pennsylvania State Police are working around the clock non-stop and have been relentless in pursuit of facts and evidence,” said Donald Serfass, Angela’s uncle. Serfass serves as the features editor for the local Times News newspaper. ”The family is grateful for work by local police and investigators, including police in Kinston, N.C., who apprehended the suspect.”
On Monday, Serfass released a statement on behalf of the families. It read: “The Serfass and Steigerwalt families thank you for your thoughtfulness and caring. A beautiful, loving, young woman has been taken from us at the prime of her life and we’re struggling for answers. We have complete faith in the Pennsylvania State Police who are leaving no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this tragedy. Please know that your support is a great comfort and means more than words can express.”
Donald Serfass also provided statements from from the murder victim’s husband (Gary Steigerwlt), son Brendon, 15, and father (Randy Serfass). ”Brendon and I are overwhelmed with the kindness shown to the Steigerwalt family by friends and everyone who’s concerned,” Steigerwalt said. “We’re also indebted to the Pennsylvania State Police. They’ve been in touch with me on a regular basis from the very beginning and it means a great deal to us during this difficult time.”
Randy Serfass, of Tamaqua, hopes the newest development will lead toward resolution. “But now that a suspect is in custody, we hope that no other family will find themselves dealing with heartbreak like this,” added Randy Serfass.
Heath appears to have two Facebook profiles. Steigerwalt’s Facebook profile shows Heath as a friend of both his profiles. Further investigation shows that Heath appears to have provided two comments under Steigerwalt’s profile photo in mid January of this year. On Heath’s Facebook page, he lists “intercessory prayer” as his professional skill.
According to a Jan. 9, 2012 article in The Express-Times (via LehighValleyLive.com), Heath was accused of biting his 1-year-old son on the back and chest. (Click HERE to view the article.)
Flagstaff Road in Jim Thorpe is just over 500 miles (8 hours) away from where Heath was pulled over in North Carolina.
Troopers reportedly headed down to North Carolina on Tuesday to question Heath. The Carbon County District Attorney’s office has started the process to have Anthony Heath brought back to Pennsylvania.
Click HERE to view a Feb. 6, 2014 story in the Times News newspaper explaining the timeline of events.
For more information about the homicide, view Sunday’s TamaquaArea.com story: