FALLENTIMBER - J. Paul Hoopsick, who last week alerted police that his nephew, Shane Ryan Krestar, had asked him to hurt a gay employee for demanding a promotion and raise, said he turned Krestar in because it was the right thing to do.
"We all have a right to live and live our lives the way they see fit," Hoopsick said. "I don't have to go along with the lifestyle, but I'm not going to take somebody's life."
State police at Ebensburg arrested Krestar, 26, on Oct. 18 after Hoopsick told police Krestar had approached him four times between late September and mid-October, asking Hoopsick to tamper with an employee's car and help "get rid of her," adding later that he would pay "anything" to have it done.
The employee worked for Krestar at Key Life Human Services along Main Street in Coalport, a business that provides residential services for mentally challenged clients.
Krestar is charged with two counts each of solicitation to commit criminal homicide, solicitation to commit aggravated assault and making terroristic threats. As of Friday, Krestar was still in Cambria County Prison, unable to post $200,000 bail.
Despite allegations by Krestar's defense attorney, Thomas M. Dickey, that there was "bad blood" between the two, Hoopsick said he was his nephew's favorite uncle and confidant growing up. Krestar often came to him for advice, he said.
He said he believes Krestar asked him to hurt the employee because of his military background and former security work.
"He thought I could do it and cover it up," Hoopsick said, adding that Krestar never specifically asked the employee be killed.
"Four times total, he mentioned the actual act of 'getting rid of her,' but he never used the word kill," Hoopsick said. "Definitely harm, and get rid of," he added.
Dickey questioned why Hoopsick waited so long to contact police, to which Hoopsick replied that he
didn't take the threat seriously at first.
"It flabbergasted me ... but I wasn't sure. ... After the second time, the stuff he wanted tampered with, the brakes or the other parts ... after the second time, I knew he was more serious," he said.
Hoopsick said he still waited, hoping he could talk to the employee himself and see whether she would apologize or stop asking for a raise. Hoopsick said his wife and son also worked for Krestar at Key Life, and several people knew about the employee's threats to "play the gay card" if she didn't get her way.
"I figured I could talk him out of it or get him some help," Hoopsick said. "I mean, this was an ongoing, everyday thing - not soliciting [to hurt the employee], just that he didn't know what to do."
He said when Krestar spoke to him about the employee, he often cried, and paced back and forth across the floor.
"But without witnesses and more validity, it may not have helped him at all," Hoopsick said, and Krestar eventually asked to "bring in different people" to help.
Dickey was unavailable for comment Friday but had said earlier police did not handle the investigation into Krestar's threats properly.
Dickey said with Hoopsick as the only witness, there is not a lot of solid evidence against his client.
But Hoopsick disputes that claim, and said when Krestar asked him a third time to hurt the employee, he did so at Hoopsick's house in front of two other witnesses.
Hoopsick added that he and the other witness, whose names he did not reveal, told police they were willing to take a polygraph test.
After Krestar said he could find someone else, Hoopsick said he told his nephew he would be going to the police.
"I told him, 'Shane you got a problem,'" Hoopsick said.
Later that evening, Krestar fired his wife and son.
Hoopsick said even his father tried to talk him out of reporting the threats, but he went to police in Clearfield the next day, who directed him to contact state police at Ebensburg.
"I cried like a baby, to have to do it to a relative," he said, "but I'd be as guilty to turn a blind eye. That's a crime."
Nearby neighbors in Fallentimber said they hardly, if ever, talked to Krestar or his fiancee.
Neighbor Irene Downs, who said Krestar's fiancee is her great-niece, said the two had been living in a mobile home for a few months. Downs said the home originally belonged to her mother, who sold it to Downs' niece.
"I never see anybody going out" of the home, she said, but spoke with some of her nephews about Krestar. They all said he was a hard-working man.
"And that's about all they really knew about him," she said.
A handwritten sign hangs on the front door of Krestar's white, single-wide mobile home along Market Street.
It states that, effective Oct. 14, 2013, certain members of the Hoopsick family would no longer be welcomed on the property. Krestar's uncle is among the names listed.
The note also reads that police would be contacted should any of the Hoopsicks come onto the property.
A young woman who answered the door said no one wanted to comment on the case.
Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.