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October 2, 2013

Man found headless, handless in barrel, killed by arrow to heart

A Pennsylvania man is accused of shooting his daughter's ex-boyfriend through the heart with a hunting arrow and stuffing the dismembered body into a barrel, police said.

Gerald Vandyke, 55, had been missing since Sept. 14. Pennsylvania State Police found what they believe is his body Friday in a rural section of Crawford County in northwest Pennsylvania, about two miles from the home of 68-year-old Richard Houy, who has been charged with Vandyke’s murder.

Additional DNA testing will be needed to confirm the victim's identity, because his head and hands were missing, but investigators said they are confident that the remains belong to Vandyke. An autopsy revealed that the man died of a ruptured aorta pierced by a hunting arrow, said Dr. Eric Vey, a forensic pathologist.

Houy was jailed after he confessed to the crime in an interview with state police last week, according to a search warrant affidavit. He told investigators that he killed Vandyke following an argument, and then dumped his body in a creek.

But Tina Skelton, Vandyke's live-in girlfriend of 10 years and Houy's daughter, told police a different story. She said she had broken up with Vandyke about three weeks before his disappearance, but the pair co-owned 26 acres of property in neighboring Erie County.

Skelton said she last saw Vandyke on the morning of Sept. 14. Later that evening, she went to her father's house, where Houy confessed to killing Vandyke, according to the affidavit. Skelton reported Vandyke missing the following day.

Skelton said she believed her father used a chainsaw to cut off Vandyke’s head and hands before disposing of his remains. The victim's head and hands have not yet been recovered, police said.

Details for this story were reported by The Meadville (Pa.) Tribune.

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