The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

October 21, 2008

Murder charge filed against Upper Yoder man in mom’s death

The adopted son of Anna Phillips, whose body was found Sunday in a wooded area in Westmoreland County, is being held in West Virginia, charged with the strangulation death of his mother.

Frederick O. Phillips Jr., 51, of Johnstown, fled the area, was involved in a DUI crash in West Virginia and is recovering in a hospital there, police said Tuesday.

He is charged with criminal homicide, murder and aggravated assault.

Cambria County District Attorney Patrick Kiniry gave details of the murder investigation Tuesday during a news conference at the Upper Yoder Police Department.

The body of the 85-year-old township woman was found off state Route 271 on state game lands in Fairfield Township just west of the Cambria County border.

Her body was covered with leaves.

“Based on the state of decomposition, it appeared she had been dead for at least several days,” Kiniry said.

Authorities think Mrs. Phillips died sometime between Oct. 4 and 16.

On Saturday, she was reported missing by a relative and a neighbor.

When township police entered the woman’s Menoher Boulevard home, they found part of her dentures and three money bags with loose change on the bed. The also found a small dog that had been left alone in the house.

That’s when the search for Frederick Phillips began. He had been living with his mother since June, when he was released from state prison.

Investigators located Phillips at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., where he was recovering from a DUI crash, Kiniry said. The crash happened at 2:13 a.m. Oct. 16 in Buckhannon.

“He allegedly ran off the road, and the truck in which he was driving rolled over,” Kiniry said.

Phillips is under guard and was expected to be released Tuesday night or today.

Phillips faces DUI and a gun charge in West Virginia, Kiniry said.

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