Man to face charges of homi­cide and ar­son

Au­thor­i­ties say he took cook­ies to home, killed woman, 97, and her son

The Morning Call - - LOCAL NEWS - By Pamela Lehman Morn­ing Call re­porter Pamela Lehman can be reached at 610820-6790 or [email protected] .com.

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.

AMY SHORTELL/THE MORN­ING CALL

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.

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