An additional arrest has been made as investigation continues into the shooting deaths of Josh Knisley and Tara Thornburg.
Officers arrested Joan DeHart, 49, Syracuse, Wednesday on a charge of assisting a criminal. Police say she assisted Brandon T. Woody, 22, in fleeing after the shootings he is charged with.
The arrest was made based on information obtained after Syracuse Police and Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department officers executed a search warrant at her home on CR 450E earlier that day, according to Syracuse Police Chief Tony Ciriello.
According to a probable cause affidavit from the prosecutor’s office, Woody was found in the passenger seat, covered in blankets, in a vehicle registered to Joan DeHart when he was arrested Feb. 20 in Mishawaka. Woody said he was hiding from police because his name and photograph was on the news, the affidavit states.
Officers spoke with Thomas Hursey on Tuesday. He admitted to police that he, Woody and Kyle DeHart went to Tara Thornburg’s residence in Kyle DeHart’s vehicle with the intent to steal marijuana Feb. 19. Woody and DeHart were wearing gloves and planned to use tape to restrain Thornburg and use a knife to cut her throat to avoid any noise, the release states.
Thornburg handed over one ounce of marijuana to Woody. He told her his money was out in his vehicle and he would retrieve it. Thornburg said she didn’t believe Woody and asked for the marijuana. Woody struck Thornburg in the face and then shot her with a handgun. Kyle DeHart ran downstairs and they left in DeHart’s vehicle. Woody told the group he had shot Knisley, according to the affidavit.
Hursey also told the officer they traveled back to Dehart’s parents’ home at 11136 North CR 450E, Syracuse. Woody used lighter fluid and burned his coat, gloves and shoes and Kyle DeHart burned his gloves in the backyard. They also burned the original bag containing the marijuana.
Hursey said they explained the situation to Joan DeHart and she said she would be their alibi. She left the residence with Woody. Fifteen minutes later, Kyle DeHart drove to Eastgate Apartments and found Woody in the parking lot. They left in DeHart’s vehicle, the release states.
Officers obtained a search warrant and searched Dehart’s home and found the black bag matching Hursey’s description. Joan DeHart admitted she took Woody to Warsaw.
She is currently being held in the Kosciusko County Jail with a $10,000 bond.
Joan DeHart is a third-grade teacher at Milford School, Wawasee Community School Corp. Superintendent Tom Edington confirmed this morning.
“Pending the outcome of the present legal situation, she has been placed on administrative leave. Our corporation is thinking of those that are in need today,” he said in a statement. “This week is ISTEP testing week at our schools. We respectfully ask that media remain away from our schools during this week of testing. This will ensure our student environment remains secure.”
Kyle DeHart, Joan DeHart’s adopted son, was arrested Feb. 21 on charges of battery causing bodily injury and failure to appear, with bond set at $1 million. Kyle DeHart previously was arrested in August 2013 along with Brandon Woody.
Kyle DeHart and Woody were arrested in August 2013 in connection to a home invasion and attack that occurred in April 2013. Kyle DeHart was more recently arrested in August 2014 and charged with corrupt business influence and conspiracy to deal in a synthetic drug.
Woody was arrested Feb. 20 and charged with the shooting death of Knisley and the shooting of Thornburg, who later died in hospital. He pleaded not guilty during his initial hearing Feb. 26.
Woody has a status conference scheduled for March 30 at 10 a.m. and a pre-trial conference scheduled for April 27 at 3 p.m.
(Story By The Times Union)