BY C.J. MARSHALL
His motive, they say, was money.
“We believe the murder was for the estate of the family,” Lt. Frank Hacken, crime section commander of the state police Troop P in Wyoming, said during a press conference Saturday.
An affidavit in the case pointed out that Colegrove “would be the only child to receive benefits … after the death of his parents and his brother Michael Colegrove.”
Following an intensive three-day investigation, Colegrove, 31, of Deposit, N.Y., was taken into custody early Saturday and charged with three counts of criminal homicide. He stands accused of using a shotgun to kill his father, Joseph Colegrove, 60; his mother, Marlene Colegrove, 56; and his brother, Michael Colegrove, 36, early Wednesday at their Tuscarora Township farmhouse.
The victims’ bodies were found in their home later that day by a concerned friend.
While Colegrove’s arrest may allay some locals’ fears about random killers on the loose, it also stands in contrast to statements made by police on Friday.
At that time, Hacken reported that no family members were suspects in the case. Asked on Saturday what had caused authorities to change their mind, Hacken said further investigation led them to Colgrove.
“We look at everything,” Hacken said.
“And as the evidence is coming in, as the interviews are coming in, we get more focused,” he added. “Some people become less of a suspect. As the interviews and the evidence develop, some people can become more of a suspect,” he said.
“And that’s what happened here.”
Friends and members of the Colegrove family were extensively interviewed, and the crime scene was examined several times, he added.
The affidavit of probable cause filed in Magisterial District Judge Fred Wheaton’s office, meanwhile, told a detailed, gruesome story.
According to the document, Colegrove is suspected of driving from Deposit, N.Y., about 30 miles east of Binghamton, to Tuscarora Township, where he entered his parents’ residence, a two-story farmhouse on Kirk Road.
There, police contend, he walked upstairs to the second floor, entered Michael Colegrove’s bedroom, and shot his brother at close range twice in the face.
Next, he allegedly walked down the hall to his father’s bedroom, and shot the elder Colegrove twice in the back of the head.
Then, the report alleges, he turned the gun on his mother.
Marlene Colegrove was shot as she tried to leave her bedroom. Before she was killed, she was shot in her right hand, severing two fingers. Police speculate she held her hand up in front of her face, possibly grabbing the weapon, and then she was shot. She then fell to the floor and was shot a second time in the head.
Downstairs, police said, a glass pane in a kitchen door was discovered smashed out, and the door unlocked. Police theorize Colegrove did this to create the appearance of forced entry for burglary or robbery. Also, wires leading from the telephone box to the exterior of the house were cut.
Physical evidence ties Colegrove to the scene – as does a witness account of a pickup truck like his seen in the area at the time – according to the affidavit. But his own statements also pointed police in Colegrove’s direction, as did those of another brother, Robert.
During an interview with state police, Colegrove allegedly said he had a good relationship with his father, mother, and brother Michael. Robert Colegrove, however, told state police that Steven and Michael Colegrove had a bad relationship – and that Steven owes Michael $3,000.
About a week before the homicide, according to Robert Colegrove’s account, Steven and Michael Colegrove got into a fight.
In a separate interview, Colegrove informed the state police that he does not get along with his brother, Robert. When asked who could have killed the victims, Colegrove allegedly told the state police he “…does not want to think that his brother could have done this.” He told state police Robert owed the family more than $20,000.
State police also interviewed Katherine Marie Rutkowski, an associate of Colegrove.
According to her recollection, she, Steven Colegrove, Marlene Colegrove, and Michael Colegrove had lunch together in 2006. During that time, Rutkowski said, Marlene Colegrove told them the family’s will was being changed – that everything was going to Michael Colegrove, and if something happened to him, everything would go to Steven Colegrove and the grandchildren.
State police noted in the affidavit that in March 2006, Marlene Colegrove obtained a $100,000 insurance policy, naming Joseph Colegrove as the beneficiary, and Michael Colegrove as the contingent beneficiary.
One of the inconsistencies state police reported finding in Colegrove’s statements is he first said he didn’t know of his parents’ will information, but later said he did.
On Friday, state police again interviewed Steven Colegrove, after informing him of his Miranda rights.
Colegrove allegedly said during the interview that he had nothing to do with the death of his parents and brother. When asked how he injured his hands, Colegrove told investigators it happened while he was working on plumbing at a friend’s house.
Further investigation revealed that Colegrove had suffered a recent bruise on the crook of his right shoulder, which was consistent with where the butt of a rifle or shotgun would be placed when fired, police said.
When asked how he was injured, Steven Colegrove reportedly said he fell onto a handrail. He also told state police that he couldn’t have gotten the bruise from a shotgun blast, because he shoots left-handed.
However, Robert Colegrove later informed the authorities that he’s observed his brother shoot hundreds of times, and he always shoots right-handed.
Other inconsistencies state police said they found about Steven Colegrove’s statements included:
*That he was honorably from the U.S. armed services, when it was actually for dereliction of duty.
*That he worked with Special Forces, but later stated he didn’t.
*That he told investigators he hadn’t thrown any garbage away on Wednesday morning, but later stated he did. Investigators are contending the garbage was the clothing he was wearing earlier that day, when he went to his parents’ home.
*That he stated he never had an altercation with his brother Michael, and then later stated that he did.
*That he stated that he never owed his brother Michael money, then later stated he did.
*That he initially denied leaving his residence after 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 7, but later told authorities he left after midnight to get cigarettes and coffee.
Saturday, at about 1 a.m., state police executed a search warrant on Colegrove’s body. He was taken to Memorial Hospital in Towanda, where a medical doctor examined the bruise on his right shoulder. The doctor concluded that Steve Colegrove’s shoulder sustained the bruise within the past 72 hours. State police noted that the time element would be consistent with the estimated time of the Colegrove homicides.
“The investigation so far gives rise to probable cause to believe that Steven Colegrove has motive and opportunity to commit the murders of the victims,” the affidavit said.
Colegrove was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Fred Wheaton, who ordered him jailed without bail at the Bradford County Correctional Facility.
Dressed casually, Colegrove sat calmly through the proceedings and did not speak.
A preliminary hearing was set before Judge Wheaton for 1 p.m. Wednesday. Wheaton, however, has apparently recused himself in the matter, and the preliminary hearing has been rescheduled for Monday, Aug. 20, before Magisterial District Judge Tim Clark.