A Windber man was jailed after police alleged that he brutally beat another man after a night of drinking and left him for dead along a back road in Richland Township.
Jeremy James Murphey, 24, was charged Friday with aggravated assault and related charges in the March 8 beating of 44-year-old Timothy Manganella.
Murphey beat Manganella so badly that he nearly died, Richland Detective Thomas Keirn said during a news conference Monday at the police station.
An officer on routine patrol found Manganella around midnight.
He was semiconscious, with a bloody face and broken jaw, and was lying in a snowbank along Berwick Road, according to the criminal complaint filed by Richland police.
“Fortunately, the victim was found within three minutes or he probably would have been deceased,” Keirn said Monday.
Police said the incident began when six men left a Windber bar around midnight in one vehicle with four passengers in the backseat.
“Along the way, two guys in the backseat started to fight,” Keirn said. “The driver stopped the car and told them to get out.”
Murphey allegedly punched Manganella once or twice, Keirn said.
The two men had met that night and it was not clear what they argued about, he said.
“One of the individuals jumped back in the car and left the other individual lying in a snowbank,” Keirn said. “Nobody came back for the guy. They just left him there.”
Manganella was taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, where he spent about a week on life support, Keirn said.
He needed surgery to repair a fractured jaw and had to have a feeding tube inserted. His condition at the time was described as “very critical,” police said in the complaint.
Rumors about the incident spread across the Windber community.
Investigators spent weeks conducting interviews, fielding telephone calls and trolling social media sites in an attempt to piece together details of the assault.
Much of the information led nowhere, Keirn said.
“Honestly, a lot of the stuff that was on the social media was completely untrue,” he said. “We had individuals call and give us stories, but those stories were not accurate.”
A break came when some of the men who were in the vehicle came forward. Then the truth emerged, Keirn said.
Keirn said the men told police that Manganella arrived at the bar around 9 p.m. Needing a ride home, he left around midnight with five men he did not know. The driver intentionally chose a back road.
“They were all heavily intoxicated,” Keirn said. “They were trying to get across town without being spotted by police.”
When the backseat argument turned physical, the driver stopped the car on Berwick Road at a turnoff. That’s when Murphey allegedly assaulted Manganella.
Paint Township picked up Murphey without incident Friday at his home in the 4100 block of Locust Street.
He was arraigned by on-call DistrictJudge Michael Musulin of Johnstown on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct.
He also was charged with robbery and theft and because police alleged that Murphey stole Manganella’s wallet and cellphone.
Murphey was sent to the Cambria County Prison after failing to post 10 percent of $100,000 bond.
Police had considered filing a charge of attempted homicide, Keirn said.
“With an attempted homicide, there has to be some amount of intent,” Keirn said. “At this point, I’m not sure it elevates to that level.”
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