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Pregnant Amish Mother Shot, Slashed, & Scalped In Grisly Rural Pennsylvania Murder

Six Months Pregnant Amish Woman Murdered & Scalped In Rural Pennsylvania -- Suspect Arrested

[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]

A young Amish woman was murdered in a grisly fashion late last month, and police just caught the man who they believe to be responsible for her death.

Back on February 26, just a little after 12 p.m. local time, Rebekah A. Byler was found slain in her home in Sparta Township in the far northwestern part of the state. Byler, who is Amish and had lived in a heavily Amish area, was just 23 years old. She was the mother of two young children, and she had been six months pregnant with her third at the time of her death.

Horrifically, her husband Andy was the one who found her. Per local news reports, the husband and another person returned to the home just past noon on that day when they found her dead in a pool of blood in the family’s living room. And now, authorities have revealed that they arrested the man believed to be responsible for her death.

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On Saturday, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department arrested 52-year-old Shawn Cranston (mugshot pictured above) and charged him with the murder. Cranston hails from the small town of Corry, just a few miles north of the site of the murder on Fish Flats Road outside Spartansburg. Per local news website Go Erie, Cranston has been charged with criminal homicide, homicide of an unborn child for the death of the fetus Byler was carrying, burglary, and criminal trespass. He is being held in the Crawford County Correctional Facility without bond.

Byler’s death was apparently extremely horrific. Per an affidavit supplied to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and reported on by multiple news agencies, she was found with an “evident laceration” to the front of her neck. She was also shot by the alleged killer, per cops. And to make things even more unsettling, her head showed evidence of what the affidavit called a “scalping type wound,” suggesting her scalp and hair were cut off upon her death.


Byler’s two toddler-age children were at home at the time of the attack, too. Thankfully, neither one was harmed — but to imagine what they went through is absolutely horrific.

Evidence at the scene led cops to Cranston, and he was arrested on Saturday. Per Go Erie, he is known by some members of the tight-knit Amish community in the Spartansburg area. However, it is not clear whether Cranston had any connection to Byler or her husband, or why he might have gone to their home in the first place. The burglary charge levied against him might suggest a possible motive, but cops are being very tight-lipped about that. On Monday, Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Mark Weindorf kept things very close to the vest in telling (or not telling) that outlet what police know thus far:

“It’s still very perplexing.”

Furthermore, per that news org, Cranston’s arrest documents did not include an affidavit of probable cause, so it’s still unclear what the motive might have been.

As for Cranston’s side, his own adult daughter spoke to on Monday and claimed the murder was a case of mistaken identity. The daughter, who that outlet did not name, said the couple who previously owned the home the Byler family lived in had adopted Cranston’s grandson a few years ago. That family moved out of the home recently, per the daughter, but Cranston allegedly didn’t know that and went there to confront them — leading to the murder supposedly being a mistake, according to her:

“As far as I know, he just wanted his grandson back. Supposedly she started yelling at him, coming in, then that’s when boom, all it took. It’s just horrifying to think that.”


Whatever the case, a young mother is dead and her community has been left reeling after her murder. Such a tragedy. Here is more on the latest in the case (below):

Just awful. Sending all our love to Byler’s husband and children, as well as to the rest of her family, friends, and loved ones.


[Image via ABC News/YouTube/Crawford County Sheriff’s Office]

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