Trio used duffel bag along Route 16 to lure, rob and murder Hancock man

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

COVE GAP — A Hancock man headed to work at JLG in McConnellsburg was shot and killed when he got out of a vehicle to remove a duffel bag deliberately placed in the middle of Route 16 early on the morning of Friday, June 3.

The move netted $24 in cash and three people were charged Tuesday morning with criminal homicide and other offenses in the death of 60-year-old Edward Charles Gilhart.

Ryan Lynn Horton, 27, Christian Sage Harris, 19, and Emily Belle Tucker, 21, all of McConnellsburg are also charged with robbery, theft and criminal conspiracy.

Pennsylvania State Police learned of the trio’s involvement Monday when Tucker went to the barracks in McConnellsburg to report she had been assaulted by Horton, her estranged boyfriend.

She told police “that not only had Horton assaulted her on two previous occasions during the previous two nights, but that she also witnessed Horton commit a shooting 06/02/16 on State Route 16 ‘at the top of the mountain,’” according to charging documents filed in the office of Magisterial District Judge Jody Eyer.

On the scene

Gilhart’s death was initially believed to be a hit-and-run traffic accident and was reported by a motorist who ran over his body in the road around 4 a.m.

The incident occurred on Route 16 near Little Cove Road on the mountain between Mercersburg and McConnellsburg.

Gilhart was shot in the shoulder, back and head and also had injuries consistent with being run over, according to police.

His 2002 Kia Sportage was found about 25 miles away on Mill Hill Road in Fulton County with the motor still running and anti-freeze poured throughout the vehicle.

His wallet — empty except for his driver’s license — was found behind the passenger seat.

What happened

Harris, interviewed Tuesday morning, admitted he was an active participant in the incident.

He said he and Horton were at Tucker’s apartment around midnight Friday when Horton started talking about wanting to make money and “formulated a plan for a staged roadside robbery,” the charging documents said.

Harris told police all three agreed to the plan, then Tucker drove to the area and dropped the two men off.

Harris told police Horton put a black duffel bag in the road and the two of them stood on a bank beside the road, hiding behind a rock. Horton was armed with a .357 Magnum and Harris was armed with a .45 semi-automatic pistol.

Gilhart stopped for the duffel bag, got out of his vehicle and was approached by Harris and Horton. Harris said when Horton pointed his gun at Gilhart, he raised his hands and said, “Don’t shoot.”

Horton shot Gilhart, took his wallet and the two men drove away in his vehicle, Harris told police.

Horton, Harris and Tucker were arraigned before Eyer, denied bail and taken to Franklin County Jail.