Almost exactly one year ago today on May 22, 2011, Ellwood City Police were called to the residence of 804 Pershing St. for an alleged homicide.
After receiving the call, officers Michael McBride and Chris Hardie arrived at the Pershing Street home around 10:20 a.m. and approached the house, where they saw Keith Wolfrey sitting on the porch.
The officers remember Wolfrey calmly pointing them in the direction of the crime; yet, both McBride and Hardie didn’t know what to expect. A short time later, they found the victim, Joie Lordi, on the floor of the kitchen with her face completely covered in duct tape.
Wolfrey was subsequently taken into custody, and he has been in the Lawrence County Jail since the May 22 killing. He was charged with first degree murder, criminal homicide, and abuse of a corpse.
But now, one year after the murder and arrest, what development has been made in the case?
According to Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa, Wolfrey was found to be mentally competent after an extensive psychological test and was recently added to the trial list.
The term ‘competence’ refers to a defendant’s capacity to function meaningfully and knowingly in a legal proceeding. In other words, punishment is only morally acceptable if the people understand why they are being punished.
According to the original report after the arrest, the incident unfolded the night of May 21 and morning of May 22, 2011:
In a statement given by Wolfrey, Lordi returned home and demanded Wolfrey hand over his key to the house and leave. Wolfrey said he wanted to refill his bottle of water, but Lordi would not allow it.
A fight ensued, and Wolfrey told police Lordi grabbed him by his beard. Wolfrey said he put his hands around Lordi’s neck and then blacked out.
Although Wolfrey said he awakened at least twice during the night and found Lordi’s body in the kitchen, he did not call police until the following morning. Wolfrey said he awoke around 4a.m., saw Lordi on the floor, and “freaked out” and put tape over her face.
It wasn’t until around 10 a.m. that Wolfrey called his mother and then police to admit the crime.
District Attorney Lamancusa said last week that at this point, Wolfrey faces two options: plead guilty or go to trial. He said that advancement in this case will continue next month.