SHAMOKIN — During their arraignments Tuesday afternoon on new charges — including an open count of criminal homicide in connection with the alleged beating of 3-year-old Arabella Parker that led to her death Friday — Jahrid J. Burgess and Samantha Jo Delcamp lashed out at police and the county district attorney while proclaiming their innocence and blaming each other for inflicting the child’s numerous injuries.
Delcamp, 24, of Sunbury, and formerly of Trevorton, and her former 19-year-old boyfriend, Burgess, of Trevorton, were arraigned individually by Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III, who denied them bail due to the addition of the criminal homicide charge.
Delcamp, who is Parker’s mother, cried several times during her arraignment before blaming authorities and Burgess for her daughter’s death.
When asked by Gembic if she planned to get a new attorney or retain conflicts counsel Michael O’Donnell, Delcamp said, “I’m hiring one because all of you are trying to screw me. I was there to protect my daughter and now I’m a prisoner. I was the only one there for my daughter.”
Delcamp said she was hoping to be released from prison so she could attend her daughter’s funeral.
When Gembic asked her if Burgess was still her boyfriend, she replied, “He ain’t nothing to me.”
After being denied bail, Delcamp was escorted from the courtroom by state police and transported back to Snyder County Prison.
Burgess was then arraigned by Gembic and became very argumentative toward Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz and Trooper Brian Siebert, of state police at Stonington, who filed all the charges in the case. The defendant also used multiple obscenities.
Burgess said he planned to continue to use a public defender to represent him until he can secure a private attorney.
The defendant claimed authorities had no evidence to charge him with beating Parker and said Delcamp was responsible for causing the child’s injuries.
“I can’t defend myself in jail,” he said. “There is more evidence against Samantha than me. You are charging me with something I didn’t f---ing do. You guys are ridiculous.”
Burgess, who accused Delcamp of being a drug addict, claimed his rights were being violated and that Matulewicz and Siebert were biased against him.
“People want to kill me for these false lies. You have no reason to hold me in prison for something I didn’t do,” he added.
The defendant complained about undergoing a “nine-hour interrogation” with police that led to his arrest.
While looking at Matulewicz and Siebert, Burgess said, “You are using your badge against me. You are holding me and my mom (Christy Willis) in jail. Use your f---ing heads.”
Burgess called Matulewicz a derogatory name before the arraignment concluded.
Upon being led out of the courtroom by state troopers to be taken back to Northumberland County Jail, Burgess told a reporter, “They have to investigate a lot better.”
In addition to the murder charge, Burgess faces three felony counts of aggravated assault, felonies of endangering the welfare of children and obstructing a child abuse case, misdemeanors of simple assault (two counts), strangulation recklessly endangering another person and false reports to police, and two summary counts of harassment.
Delcamp is now charged with criminal homicide, three felony counts of aggravated assault, felonies of endangering the welfare of children, obstructing a child abuse case and hindering apprehension, misdemeanors of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and false reports to police and a summary of harassment.
All the charges relate to incidents that occurred between July 19 and Oct. 24 at 725 W. Shamokin St., Trevorton, where the defendants and the victim resided at the time.
Siebert filed the original charges against Burgess and Delcamp and they are scheduled to be withdrawn today, according to Matulewicz.
The criminal homicide charge was the only new offense filed against Burgess. New charges against Delcamp include criminal homicide, three counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and harassment.
Both defendants were previously held for court on the original charges during preliminary hearings at the county courthouse. Gembic tentatively set their hearings on the new charges for Friday, Dec. 6, at the courthouse.
Willis, 50, of 1343 Plum Creek Road, Sunbury, who is charged with felonies of obstructing a child abuse case and hindering apprehension or prosecution and a misdemeanor of providing false reports to law enforcement, was previously held for court by Gembic and ordered to appear for a status conference Jan. 13 at the courthouse.
She remains in Northumberland County Jail in lieu of $200,000 cash bail.
SHAMOKIN — More details have emerged about a fatal fire early Tuesday morning at a three-story apartment building at 130 E. Dewart St. The blaze claimed the life of a 75-year-old woman and reportedly left five people homeless.
Patricia Schminkey, 75, of Apt. 1, was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:40 a.m. by Northumberland County Coroner James Kelly. He said she died of carbon monoxide toxicity and added that the investigation into her death is ongoing.
Schminkey was positively identified by family members at the morgue at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital.
Displaced tenants included brothers Richard and Gilbert Chelbort in Apt. 2, who safely exited their apartment and alerted the occupants of another building, an unidentified couple and their child. All five escaped without injury.
According to City of Shamokin Fire Investigator Raymond Siko II, local fire bureau personnel and police received a dispatch call from Northumberland County Communications Center to respond to the blaze at about 6:25 a.m.
Upon their arrival, firefighters were met with fire and smoke emanating from an apartment on the first floor of the multi-level building, which is less than a block from the Harold Thomas Highrise.
Siko said the fire is believed to have originated in the northeast corner of Apt. 1, where Schminkey resided, between the basement ceiling and first floor.
That apartment sustained excessive heat, smoke and water damage, according to Siko, who said a huge hole was discovered inside the doorway. Firefighters who entered the room nearly fell into the cavity.
“There were no working smoke detectors anywhere inside the building,” said Stephen Jeffery, who is the county public safety EMA coordinator and Shamokin Fire Bureau assistant chief.
Though a wheelchair was reportedly found in the victim’s apartment, Jeffery could not confirm she was handicapped.
“Our crews left between 12 and 1 p.m.,” he said, adding that three state fire marshals were on site earlier, around 8 a.m.
The owner of the apartment building, Michael Ramos, of Neptune, New Jersey, is reportedly insured.
COAL TOWNSHIP — A car theft that occurred in the 1000 block of West Mulberry Street late Tuesday afternoon resulted in a high-speed chase throughout Coal Township, Shamokin and Kulpmont. The harrowing incident concluded with a damaged vehicle and the suspect in custody.
Kyle A. McDaniel, 27, of 141 W. Penn Ave. Apt. 3, Robesonia, has been charged by Patrolman Gregory Hoffman with one count each of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
He is incarcerated at Northumberland County Jail in lieu of $40,000 cash bail.
According to police, the incident began when McDaniel allegedly stole a black 2008 Infinity G37S belonging to Kathleen Cristin, which was parked outside a residence at 1003 W. Mulberry St. shortly before 5 p.m.
During a pursuit by Shamokin police, McDaniel allegedly refused to pull over and continued weaving his way up and down various streets throughout Coal Township and into the City of Shamokin, where he reportedly caused several accidents and endangered many people, before driving south along Route 61 and finally ending up in the Borough of Kulpmont.
“He nearly ran Ray (Officer Siko) over while traveling the wrong way in the 200 block of South Franklin Street in Shamokin’s Fifth Ward before driving west on Independence Street and circling back to Shamokin Street, then onto Route 61 south toward Kulpmont,” said Shamokin Chief of Police Darwin Tobias III.
Tobias said many of the streets on which the suspect drove recklessly were very narrow, but no one was reportedly injured.
The chase finally ended when the suspect was surrounded by police at the corner of Eleventh and Spruce streets in the Borough of Kulpmont, directly outside the Life Geisinger building.
He was initially transported to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital for a blood-alcohol draw before being incarcerated.
The damaged stolen vehicle was towed from the scene by East End Auto of Coal Township.
Shamokin and Coal Township Police were assisted by units from Kulpmont Borough, Mount Carmel Township and Ralpho Township.
Thousands of complimentary Thanksgiving Day meals will be served to area residents this week.
Turkey and all the fixings will be offered Thursday at Church of the Holy Angels in Kulpmont and Knights of Columbus, Council 458, Shamokin.
The Mount Carmel Lions are expected to continue its rich tradition of delivering meals to area residents and God’s Chuckwagon mobile soup kitchen will hand out 800 to 1,000 meals to residents of Schuylkill, Northumberland and Montour counties.
SS Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church, 131 N. Beech St., Mount Carmel, are giving thanks to its “soup and sandwich friends” and to parishioners and friends who make it possible to provide free meals every week.
Members of the community who are lonely, hungry, elderly or just want a warm meal and friendly conversation are invited to join parishioners from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today for a pre-Thanksgiving day meal, which will be served in place of the usual homemade soup and sandwich.
God’s Chuckwagon has been traveling throughout the region to hand out holiday meals. The mobile soup kitchen has already made stops in Milton, Sunbury, Danville, Mount Carmel and Shamokin.
Today, volunteers will provide meals in Pottsville, Ashland, Mahanoy City and Shenandoah.
The parish family of Holy Angels, 855 Scott St., will host a holiday meal at the activity center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday. No reservations are required and families are welcome to attend.
Parish members and volunteers will cook for countless hours in the activity center’s kitchen and will gather Thursday morning to serve meals to more than 100 people.
A Thanksgiving Day Mass will be held at 8 a.m.
On Monday, parishioners distributed about 85 bountiful food baskets, including a 15-pound turkey, to anyone in need.
Members of the Knights of Columbus, 400 E. Independence St., take the spirit of community to heart with its seventh annual Thanksgiving Day meal between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the organization’s banquet hall.
The organization last year prepared enough food to feed 300 people.
In 1979, the Mount Carmel Lions Club, under the leadership of then-President John Kondisko, fed about 80 people on Thanksgiving Day.
The tradition will continue Thursday when meals will be delivered to residents in Mount Carmel and Mount Carmel Township who have reserved a meal.
Last year, about 170 meals were delivered out of the Atlas Legion.
MILTON — Members of Bethany United Methodist Church gathered for a time of fellowship and to decorate their church for the Christmas season following Sunday’s service. Two days later, with heavy smoke and flames shooting from the roof of the historic building, those same church members stood in a circle, praying, in a nearby municipal parking lot.
“No matter what gets destroyed, God is still standing strong,” said Bill McNeal, the church pastor. “We’ve had damage to a building, but not to the church.”
Mike Longenberger said he received a phone call just after 2 p.m. alerting him to the fact that the church was on fire.
“I was a member here my entire life,” Longenberger said. “This is my church.”
During services on Sunday, he said the church lights flashed off. He said an electrician left the church building at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday after inspecting the electrical system and finding nothing wrong with it.
Milton Police Department Chief Curt Zettlemoyer said he was on duty just before 2 p.m. Tuesday when he spotted the fire. Zettlemoyer immediately radioed the communications center, asking for the fire department to be called to the scene.
About 75 firefighters from across Northumberland, Union, Lycoming, Snyder and Montour counties responded to the blaze, Milton Fire Department Chief Joe Stump said.
The ladders from multiple aerial trucks surrounded the building, with crews on each truck working to spray water onto the burning building.
“A lot of work had to be done from the exterior,” Stump said. “With a building that size, and because of how tall and steep the roof is, it’s safer to have those aerial trucks there … You can’t get onto that roof.”
He said several crews with hosed lines worked to douse the fire from inside the building.
“The fire was contained to the ceiling above the sanctuary,” Stump said, adding that the right front portion of the roof caved in from the exterior.
He said the church sustained “a lot of water and smoke damage.” However, he is hopeful the building can be rebuilt.
“I think the stone shell is good,” he said, adding that the roof will have to be replaced. “They will have to have engineers come in and take a look at it.”
A state police fire marshal is scheduled to inspect the scene this morning. Stump said the fire is not considered suspicious.
Longenberger and other church members who came to the fire scene were, at times, emotional as they watched heavy smoke billow from the building.
“What we did, after the service (on Sunday) we had a luncheon together,” Longenberger said. “Then, we did all the Christmas stuff in the church. We decorated.”
According to Longenberger, the church was built in 1882 and has gone through extensive renovations over the past 10 years.
“It’s one of the oldest churches in the town,” he said. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a large amount of people (attending). It’s the most beautiful church, with the windows and all the things.”
Both he and McNeal offered thanks to the responders, and representatives from a number of Milton-area churches, who came to the scene to offer support.
“I’m glad nothing happened to anybody,” Longenberger said. “I’m glad there are so many volunteers. If you look at all of them, thank God they’re OK.”
McNeal said it was important for the church members to pray together as responders worked on scene.
Stump said he was cognizant of the building’s rich history in the community.
“My first thought when I got there was ‘this is a piece of history in Milton,’” Stump said. “We need to do everything we can to save this … You have a whole community looking on you and looking at you to save that piece of history.”
As firefighters worked to douse the flames, church members and other volunteers started carrying filing cabinets and other items out of a home connected to the church building.
Many of those supplies were loaded onto a trailer donated by Christ Wesleyan Church.
“This is a reassurance of how much this is a community,” McNeal said. “We are all one church. They have all come together to help out, offer places to worship.”
A number of members of the Milton Ministerium came to the scene, offering hugs and other encouragement to McNeal and his church members.
“Our hearts are saddened today as a church community at the loss of this beautiful building,” said Jilline Bond, president of the ministerium and a pastor at Revival Tabernacle. “We are thankful Pastor Bill and his congregants are safe.”
Bond said Revival Tabernacle would offer to help in any way needed.
“There will be a lot of churches that feel that way,” she said. “As pastors, we are very close and we work together.
“We never understand why things like this happen,” Bond said. “We always find strength in the community.”
Milton Mayor Ed Nelson was among those looking on.
“This is sad,” he said. “It’s sad to see a historical church such as this one go through this.”