Relative: Long-standing feud led to killings
ASHVILLE – A daughter’s “hatred” and a long feud culminated in the deaths of four family members late Friday night near this Cambria County borough, according to a relative.
The lone survivor in a two-way firefight, who has been unofficially identified as John Frew, killed two intruders, reportedly his daughter and her husband, after they shot and killed his wife and adult son. John Frew was not injured.
Virginia Cruse told The Associated Press that the victims included her 64-year-old sister, Roberta Frew, and the couple’s 47-year-old son, identified by neighbors as Ed Frew.
Cruse said the assailants were the Frews’ daughter, Josephine, and her husband, Jeff Ruckinger.
A 2009 Mirror obituary for Josephine M. (Gutshall) Patterson said her children included Virginia Cruse of Altoona and Roberta Frew of Ashville and said Patterson had resided with her granddaughter, Josephine Ruckinger and her husband, Jeff, of Blandburg.
State police declined to release the identities of those involved before a news conference scheduled for today.
State police at Ebensburg said they received a call a little after 10 p.m. Friday night from an unidentified male who said two intruders broke into his home at 643 Bottom Road just outside Ashville in Allegheny Township.
Police said the man told them the intruders shot his 64-year-old wife and 47-year-old son, killing them, before he shot and incapacitated the intruders.
Police arrived to find the man’s wife by the front door and his son in the kitchen.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
The female intruder, who was identified early Saturday morning by Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan as the caller’s daughter, was still alive in the family’s living room with a gunshot wound to the head when police arrived.
Police said she later died at the UPMC Altoona Trauma Center.
The male intruder, who police said they believe was the daughter’s husband, also was found dead in the kitchen, police said.
Cruse said the daughter and mother did not get along, but that she had no idea what spawned Friday’s tragedy.
The daughter had “a hatred toward the family,” Cruse said.
When Josephine was about 20, she and a boyfriend trashed her parents’ home and stole items including a pistol, then fled to Pittsburgh, Cruse said. After that, she said, “more or less, they disowned her.”
Jeff Ruckinger worked for a tire repair company, and Josephine had disabilities that prevented her from working, Cruse said.
Ashville Volunteer Fire Company continued to block off Bottom Road into Saturday morning, as detectives continued to arrive at the scene well past midnight.
Police said autopsies are still being performed, and a motive is unknown at this time.
State police have scheduled a press conference for 11:30 a.m. today at their barracks in Ebensburg.
State police at Hollidaysburg and Greensburg also were on scene, assisted by the county district attorney’s and coroner’s offices, as well as Ashville fire department and multiple EMS agencies.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.