INDIANA COUNTY, Penn. (WPXI) - Pennsylvania police have arrested a man believed to be behind a triple homicide in Indiana County.
Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said he may seek the death penalty when Lewis Beatty stands trial in the killings of his two young daughters and his wife.
Beatty, 40, allegedly stalked his daughters, Sara, 6, and Amanda, 11, and his estranged wife, Christine, at three locations before he slashed their throats and set two homes on fire, according to Trooper John Matchik.
Emergency crews said several fire departments responded to a fire along Morrow Road just before 7 p.m. Friday.
About an hour later, firefighters said another blaze broke out at a mobile home just five miles away on Pfieiffer Road in East Mahoning Township.
During a noon press conference, Matchik detailed a timeline of Beatty's alleged path of murder and arson:
Sara died first, in the bottom bunk of her bunk bed at a house along Morrow Road.
Beatty slit her throat, then went outside and shot the family's pets: a pony, a goat and a dog, Matchik said.
?Mr. Beatty slit Sara?s throat with a hunting knife while she was in the lower bunk bed,? Matchik said.
He then waited for 11-year-old Amanda to come home.
He slit her throat in the living room, Matchik said.
Beatty drove to a convenience store where he bought a drink, then went to First Commonwealth Bank in Plumville, where he tried to add his mother's name to an account, police said.
He drove to Marion Center Bank, where his wife worked, and waited.
When Christine left the bank, he followed her to the rented mobile home on Piper Road where she was living, police said.
The two spoke briefly, Matchik said, and when Christine tried to leave, Beatty choked her until she was unconscious, then slit her throat.
He set fire to the mobile home and left, Matchik said.
Beatty returned to the house on Morrow Road, where both his daughters lay dead, and set a fire inside.
Beatty was trapped by the flames.
A neighbor helped him escape, and he was taken to Indiana Regional Medical Center, where he was arrested.
State police charged Beatty on Saturday with three counts of criminal homicide, according to officials at the Indiana County Jail.
District Judge Guy Haberl ordered him held without bond.
?It?s so very sad to stand here today, reflecting on how these three victims died and what kind of suffering they endured in the last few moments of their lives,? Matchik said.
Ron Smail, Christine Beatty?s father, said authorities told him that Christine Beatty and her daughters bled to death after their throats were slashed.
He said they also told him the family's pet pony, goat and dog had been shot to death.
Smail said Lewis Beatty seemed to become more controlling over the years and he feared for his daughter and grandchildren.
"We always feared this would happen, but hoped it never would," said Smail, who described his son-in-law as having a temper, once breaking a knuckle after punching a garage door, but never physically harming his wife or daughters. "It was always his way or no way,"
Smail said Christine's family and friends had begged her for years to leave her husband.
The pair, married for about eight years, recently separated, though Smail said the two hadn't begun formal divorce proceedings.
The couple shared custody of the girls, Smail said.
Amanda was in the fifth grade and Sara in kindergarten in the Marion Center Area School District.
Smail said that Lewis Beatty repeatedly tried to reconcile with his wife, but she recently told him that she would never go back to him.
He added that she turned down a Friday dinner date with him, and he wondered if that led to the deaths.
Amanda and Sara?s cousin, Matt Peltz said the crime is so horrifying that family members are distraught.
?They were angels. They were the sweetest little girls. How somebody could do that is beyond me,? Peltz said. ?I can?t think about how they spent the last hour of their life. It turns my stomach.?