The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 24, 2013

Two jailed in Connellsville woman’s death

CONNELLSVILLE — Two men were charged with strangling and sexually assaulting a woman whose nude body was discovered floating in a river the morning after police said she was seen with the men at a bar. Margaret "Peggy Sue" Kriek's body was found about 9:45 a.m. Saturday by a Boy Scout troop from Pittsburgh that was boating on the Youghiogheny River.

Paul Bannasch, of Hopwood, and Craig Rugg, of Connellsville, were jailed Monday without bond on charges including criminal homicide, criminal conspiracy, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and abuse of a corpse. Online court records didn't list attorneys for the two men, both of whom are 24.

The 52-year-old Kriek was seen with the men at a bar in Connellsville about 11:30 p.m. Friday and again shortly after midnight in a nearby Amtrak parking lot, according to a criminal complaint. Police contend the men beat and sexually assaulted Kriek, who was dead by the time she was thrown into the river, according to an autopsy sanctioned by the Fayette County coroner.

Some of Kriek's clothing was found near the train platform. Investigators also found drag marks and blood leading to the river, according to the criminal complaint, which said the autopsy determined she had been strangled. Kriek had a broken bone in her throat, trauma injuries to her face and head, injuries consistent with being sexually assaulted, a rib fracture, and cuts and scrapes in various places, investigators said.

Bannasch returned to the bar at some point to ask where Kriek lived, police said in the complaint. When customers offered to alert the bar's security, Bannasch told them not to and, instead, told patrons to deny knowing him if they eventually saw his name or face turn up on "wanted" posters, police said.

Court records show both men have criminal records.

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