NEW CASTLE (KDKA) — Police in Lawrence County have made an arrest in the murder of three people, including a 10-year-old child, inside a New Castle home earlier this week.
New Castle Police say they have arrested 19-year-old Steven Procopio of New Wilmington. He was taken into custody Wednesday night and questioned for five hours.
Procopio faces three counts of criminal homicide in the murders of 31-year-old Nichole Pumphrey, her 10-year-old daughter Amariah Emery and 30-year-old Lawrence Cannon.
Police say they believe Procopio may have babysat for Pumphrey’s children at one time.
“We believe he used to babysit the children. He was an acquaintance with Nichole, one of the victims,” New Castle Police Chief Robert Salem said.
Emery and Cannon were both shot once in the face, while Pumphrey was shot twice in the face.
“All we know is that the 10-year-old was coming down the steps when the shooting occurred,” Washington County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa said.
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The three were found dead Tuesday morning on the first floor of Pumphrey’s home on West North Street. Police believe the shooting happened sometime Monday night.
Police interviewed four other kids who were inside the home at the time.
The criminal complaint states one of the four children said Procopio shot her mother and sister and had pointed the gun at her, but she ducked and ran up the stairs.
On Tuesday, Procopio was brought in for questioning along with 41-year-old Jody Hammer and another man. All were released the same day.
After police gathered more evidence, Procopio and Hammer were interrogated and arrested.
“[Procopio’s] cooperative spirit varied at times throughout the evening; but ultimately, he did provide information that resulted in him being charged with murder,” Lamancusa said.
Watch Amy Wadas’s report —
Hammer was charged with operating a marijuana growing business.
“She has taken [Procopio] into her house, she cares for him, feeds him, clothes to him and he truly looks at her as a mother figure and is extremely loyal to her,” Lamancusa said.
Police say there could be a second suspect.
“That’s a possibility that there were two shooters. We did not have definitive evidence yet that there were two shooters. Shell casings were recovered at the scene, as well as bullet fragments, but we have not made that determination yet, whether or not there were two shooters, two guns or anyone else involved,” Lamancusa said.
According to the criminal complaint, Procopio says a man named Anthony Cooper was in the house with him and that Cooper shot the three victims.
Cooper was the other man also questioned by police onTuesday. He was released, and when police went back to talk to him Wednesday, they learned he had possibly taken a bus to Michigan.
Procopio is being held in the Lawrence County Jail.
Police have not commented on a possible motive.
“Because we do not have a good definitive understanding of how it happened, we have been really reluctant to speculate as to a motive,” Lamancusa said.
Police have ruled out robbery because money was found on a table and the house was not ransacked.