Matthew Wertz, the 28 year old nephew of Catherine Wanamaker, has been charged with first degree murder over her death on early Friday morning at 909 Hallowell Street in Conshohocken. Here is the complete release from the District Attorney’s Office:
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and Conshohocken Borough Police Chief Michael Orler announce the arrest of Matthew J. Wertz Jr., 28, of 909 Hallowell Street in Conshohocken, for First-Degree Murder and related charges in the stabbing death of his aunt, Catherine Wanamaker, 60, on Dec. 16, 2016.
At 5:14 a.m., Conshohocken Borough Police responded to a call of a woman screaming and a dog barking at 909 Hallowell Street in Conshohocken Borough. Upon arrival, officers found the residence secure. After forcing their way in, officers found the body of Ms. Wanamaker lying on the floor, dead from multiple stab wounds throughout her body. They also found Wertz kneeling several feet away and observed him to be stabbing himself in his throat area. Police were able to disarm him. The defendant was transported to Lankenau Hospital for treatment.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office completed an autopsy this afternoon and confirmed the existence of nearly 40 stab wounds on the victim. He opined the cause of death is multiple stab wounds and the manner of death is homicide.
“This is a terrible tragedy. A woman opened her door to a relative who had just been released from jail, and in return she was brutally murdered,” said Steele.
The defendant was taken into custody upon his discharge from the hospital and arraigned today before Magisterial District Judge Henry Schireson. Bail was denied. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m., Dec. 29, 2016 before Magisterial District Judge Deborah Lukens.
The case will be prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Samantha Cauffman.
Philly.com has some additional information taken from the affidavit. It’s article shares:
At 5:14 a.m. Friday, Conshohocken police responded to a neighbor’s call of Wanamaker screaming for help — “911, 911,” she yelled — and a dog barking at the home, the affidavit says. Officers found the residence secure, looked through a window and saw a man inside, who then quickly rushed out of view. They had to force their way into the dead-bolted steel front door with a sledgehammer.
Inside the home, officers found Wanamaker dead on the living-room floor. She had been stabbed nearly 40 times, with wounds to her back, chest, face, head and neck area and with defensive wounds on her hands, according to an autopsy conducted by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. Detectives found “a blood-covered kitchen knife” with a 6-inch blade in the adjoining dining room, the affidavit says.
Police on Friday also found Wertz kneeling several feet away from his aunt’s body, with his back toward the officers. He refused commands to show his hands, was crouched over, had a knife in his hand and “appeared to be stabbing himself in the throat area with the knife” the affidavit says.
Officers ordered him to drop the knife, but he refused, prompting one officer to use a taser to disarm him, the affidavit says. Wertz was then taken to Lankenau Medical Center for treatment. After being discharged from the hospital, he was transported to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, where he remains in custody.
As reported by Philly.com, according to the affidavit, Wertz confessed. From the article:
Detectives on Friday interviewed Wertz, who admitted stabbing his aunt, the affidavit says. “I did it, I was not in my right frame of mind when I did it,” Wertz told detectives. He refused to say more.
We have spoken with several people who knew Wertz since we learned his name on Friday morning. He was known as a habitual drug abuser. As the result of an overdose, he lost two limbs. The Philly.com article also references his mother being interviewed and confirming his drug use:
She said her son abused heroin, painkillers, crack cocaine and “pretty much whatever he could get his hands on” and gets angry and acts out when “he needs drugs or wants to get drugs,” she said, according to the affidavit.
He had only lived at Wanamaker’s less than a week.
Photo: Mugshot from Montgomery County District Attorney