BRENTWOOD (KDKA) — A Brentwood man is in jail after police say he beat his roommate to death during an argument over beer.
Allegheny County Police say they are charging the suspect, identified as Justin Vankirk, in connection with the death of his roommate, Charles Parker, on Halloween night in their top-floor apartment on Clermont Avenue.
According to the criminal complaint, Vankirk called police to report his roommate had died a day later on Tuesday afternoon.
A next-door neighbor told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti that she couldn’t believe that Parker met such a violent death allegedly at the hands of his roommate.
“When we first got the news, we were shocked. We thought maybe he fell. This was the last thing we thought; just a complete surprise,” said neighbor Sarah Spreckic said.
Officials pronounced Parker dead at the scene, and investigators say Vankirk gave “various accounts of how he found the victim, and a timeline of events had varied as well.”
Police took Vankirk into custody. He was first taken to the Brentwood Police Station and later transported to Allegheny County Police headquarters for further questioning.
When police questioned him, the criminal complaint reports that “Vankirk admitted that he got into a confrontation with the victim.”
According to the criminal complaint, Vankirk said Parker stole some beer he had bought. During the confrontation, the suspect told police he struck his roommate several times on the face and head.
Parker suffered bruising, swelling and he was bleeding from his lips and mouth.
The suspect said he then “dragged the victim from the bedroom/living room area to the dining area, because he did not want any blood to get on his carpet” and then went to bed, the criminal complaint reported.
When examining the victim, investigators reported “abnormalities about the back” of his head.
“They were really good neighbors,” Spreckic said. “Chuck, he would always take the garbage out for us. We liked [both of them] a lot.”
According to the criminal complaint, Vankirk called police the next afternoon after getting home.
Investigators also searched Vankirk’s cell phone, saying they found a photo of the victim lying on the dining room floor. They also said his knuckles were swollen and he had blood on one of his shoes.
Vankirk is now charged with aggravated assault, but that’s likely to be upgraded to criminal homicide very soon.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy on the victim.
Allegheny County and Brentwood Police continue the investigation.