The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 5, 2013

Son raided safe, police say

JOHNSTOWN — A Johnstown man raided his father’s safe for drug money after beating him to death with a hammer on Friday, city police said.

Jonathan Robert Kuzma, 31, faces homicide, assault and other charges. He is accused of striking down his father, John P. Kuzma, with a carpenter’s hammer inside their Bond Street home. He then stabbed his 52-year-old father several times before dumping his body in the basement, Detective Larry Wagner and Sgt. Thomas Owens wrote in an affidavit.

“Jonathan admitted to striking his father on the head with a hammer and stabbing him,” Wagner and Owens wrote, adding that Kuzma signed a waiver of his Miranda rights during an interview with police.

Staff from the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office indicated the matter remains under investigation.

City police said a hammer and knife found Friday during a search inside the Kuzma home are likely the weapons used in the attack.

Police obtained a search warrant for the two-story home in the Moxham neighborhood. Inside, they processed the scene for other potential evidence, Wagner and Owens said.

An open safe was found on the second floor and its keys were nearby, the detectives said.

Police said Jonathan Kuzma told them he robbed the safe of its contents moments after attacking his father and taking the keys.

The son took cash, prescription medication and  a .22-caliber handgun before leaving the home in his father’s 2007 Chrysler, investigators said.

Kuzma drove to several locations looking for heroin and alerted family that he had killed his father, the affidavit says.

Police found Kuzma on Ferndale Avenue. His father’s vehicle was parked close by, Wagner and Owens said.

Johnstown police Capt. Andrew Frear said police had been dispatched to the Bond Street home more than once for domestic incidents prior to the homicide.

On Monday, a tiny, makeshift memorial sat below the family home’s front porch. Small candles flickered alongside plastic flower bouquets. Stuffed animals sat beside a handwritten sign in John P. Kuzma’s memory. “You will be missed,” it said.

A few houses away, Chris Harr, 20, recalled the Moxham he grew up in as if it were a distant memory.

Kuzma’s homicide is the third his neighborhood has endured in two years, Harr said.

“All within like a block from here,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “It used to be peaceful here. Now, it’s different.

“Suddenly, this is a bad place to live, I guess,” Harr added.  “It’s all about drugs and money.”

“Somebody needs to do something about it,” his friend, Jason Neill, said.

Kuzma’s homicide is the fourth within the city of Johns­town this year, according to the Cambria County Coroner’s Office. It’s the fifth within the county.

Jonathan Kuzma remained in Cambria County Prison on Monday without bail because he is charged with criminal homicide.

A family obituary describes John Patrick Kuzma as a former Pepsi worker who loved his dogs, Max and Sadie, and weightlifting.

A visitation is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Moskal & Kennedy Funeral Home in Moxham, where a funeral service will be held afterward.

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