By: KDKA-TV News Staff
NEW SEWICKLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) — Police say a Massachusetts man is accused of strangling his own father here in Beaver County after the 83-year-old man got caught up in a scam and lost a substantial amount of money.
New Sewickley Police say they have charged 57-year-old Michael Miklaucic with homicide. According to investigators, Michael has confessed to his father’s death, but has not shown any remorse.
Police say Michael recently traveled to Pennsylvania from his home in Plymouth, Massachusetts, to help his father, John, sort through a Publishers Clearing House-like scam he had become caught up in.
New Sewickley Police Chief Ronald Leindecker says a call came in to 911 today around 8:05 a.m. During the call, police say Michael told the dispatcher that his father was dead and he was responsible for his father’s death.
When police arrived at the scene on Fezell Road, they found Michael on the front porch and John dead by strangulation inside the house.
Michael was taken into custody and transported to the New Sewickley police station where he was questioned.
Investigators say Michael told them he felt his father was humiliated because of the scam and wanted his father to die in his own home. However, police said that John “didn’t ask for this to happen to him.”
“The statement from the son was that he felt his dad was humiliated so he wanted his dad to die in his house and be removed from the humiliation that was going to be brought upon him,” said Leindecker.
Michael Miklaucic is being held in the Beaver County Jail.
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The Beaver County District Attorney’s Office says this case is a cautionary tale for scams that target seniors.
“Seniors have got to learn, don’t answer the phone if you don’t know who’s calling. Every senior should have caller ID and every senior should have voicemail. If they don’t recognize the phone number, don’t answer it and don’t ever give personal information over the phone,” Beaver County DA David Lozier said. “We have hundreds of people in Beaver County probably scammed every year, sometimes a small amount of money, sometimes a large amount of money because they answer the phone and they end up being sucked into fake prizes, fake award processes.”
Mary Bach is a consumer advocate for scams. She says nothing merits murder, but scams can cause a rift in families.
“You can imagine that adult children might be especially angry because they feel like it’s not only the parents’ money, but it ultimately might be their money that’s lost,” Bach said. “Simply because it could be their inheritance.”
But to avoid the situation altogether, Bach has some tips.
“When it comes to Publishers Clearing House, they do everything by mail or you can sign up via email. They typically do not call and ask for money. It’s a sweepstake, and you do not have to pay to win,” Bach said.
If you believe somebody is trying to catch you in a scam, file a police report.