Man to face charges of homicide and arson
Authorities say he took cookies to home, killed woman, 97, and her son
Authorities say a man charged with killing a 97-year-old bedridden woman and her son in Palmer Township confessed to an ex-girlfriend that the woman was still alive when he set her house ablaze.
Drew A. Rose, 37, was ordered Tuesday to face trial on charges of homicide, arson and burglary after a preliminary hearing on the Jan. 3 slaying of Virginia Houck and her 61-year-old son, Roger Houck. Rose remains in Northampton County Jail without bail.
For the first time since Rose’s arrest in August, authorities hinted at a possible motive.
Palmer police Sgt. Timothy Ruoff testified that Rose’s former girlfriend told investigators that Rose is the son of a former caretaker of Virginia Houck, according to First Deputy District Attorney Terry Houck, the lead prosecutor in the case.
Rose baked a batch of cookies and took them to Virginia Houck’s home on Jan. 3 and spent some time at her bedside, said Terry Houck, who is not related to the victims.
Rose then demanded that Roger Houck participate in a scheme to order and pay for items and have them shipped to Virginia Houck’s home, authorities say. When Roger Houck refused to participate, Rose punched Houck in the stomach and strangled him to death, officials said.
Rose fled with $280 but returned in the early morning hours, when he bound Virginia Houck, officials said, and threw her down the basement steps before setting the home on fire. Virginia Houck died of smoke inhalation, authorities say.
Several others also testified Tuesday, including a neighbor and fire officials who said the blaze was so intense that none of them was able to get immediately inside the home, Terry Houck said.
Rose was arrested after a seven-month investigation after his girlfriend told authorities that he confessed to her, according to court records. Police said Rose’s mother, Kim Rose of Bethlehem, was a nurse’s aide and caretaker for Virginia Houck until about eight months before the homicides. Authorities said they do not believe Kim Rose was involved in the killings.
Drew A. Rose will face trial in the January killings of 97-year-old Virginia Houck and her son Roger Houck. Police say Rose admitted to an ex-girlfriend that he killed them in their home.