Williamsport Man Who Killed Girlfriend, Hid Body in Closet Hit With 30-60 Year Prison Sentence

Hasan Gooden-Reid
Hasan Gooden-Reid

A Williamsport man received a lengthy prison sentence after he killed his 22-year-old girlfriend and then hid the body in a closet for several weeks in July of 2015.

President Judge Nancy Butts sentenced 35-year-old Hasan Gooden-Reid to 30-60 years in state prison in Lycoming County Court on Thursday, June 9th. He had pleaded guilty to murder prior to his sentencing.

Kristina Pope was 22 when she was killed by Gooden-Reid on July 7th. Gooden-Reid entered his apartment located on Sherman Street’s 1600 block where Pope was sitting in the living room. According to Gooden-Reid, water was running on the floor due to a broken toilet and his cell phone had been smashed. According to what Gooden-Reid said to the court, he was angry with Pope and she tried to exit the apartment but he would not let her leave. Pope grabbed a pair of scissors and the two struggled. Gooden-Reid got the scissors from Pope and she began choking him while they were both on the couch. According to Gooden-Reid, he stabbed her between four and five times on the left side below her armpit.

After Gooden-Reid stabbed Pope, he moved the body to the bed in his bedroom and covered it up. He told the court he was afraid to call the police the night he killed Pope. At some point, he moved the body to a closet. The body was in the apartment for around three weeks when the Lycoming County Housing Authority instructed him to leave so the apartment could be fumigated as people were complaining about the smell as well as insects. According to Agent Raymond O. Kontz III in an affidavit, Gooden-Reid said the smell was because of clothes that were moldy and wet as well as a toilet that had been broken for three weeks. Gooden-Reid left the apartment and came back later that night. At that time, he moved the body to the trash can outside. According to Gooden-Reid, he put the body on the grass beside the trash can. He told the court that because of the smell, he “didn’t know what else to do”. On July 28th, a member of the Lycoming County Housing Authority found what was a jaw bone within a trashcan and police were called to the scene. Gooden-Reid has been in prison without bail since July 28th.

Gooden-Reid was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. According to what he told the court, he did not take his medication for a year prior to killing Pope. He was declared competent to stand trial in March. In court, Gooden-Reid said that “[Pope] was my girlfriend and I loved her. It broke my heart.” He said that when he killed Pope, “[He] was in a state of rage.” He also said he knew his actions were wrong and that at the time of the murder, “[He] wasn’t in [his] right state of mind”.

Gooden-Reid’s prison sentence was for the following charges: third-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, recklessly endangering another person, criminal mischief, possession of an instrument of crime, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and obstructing the administration of the law. District Attorney Eric Linhardt, Gooden-Reid said that because of Gooden-Reid’s mental illness, he was not capable of “a specific intent to kill” so a first-degree murder charge could not be pursued. According to Linhardt, the sentence Gooden-Reid received was the maximum required by law. Kimberly Pope-Seiberling, who is Pope’s aunt, had asked that Gooden-Reid receive the maximum sentence.

Gooden-Reid said he “want[s] to start [his] life over again.” According to Lindhardt, Gooden-Reid will be eligible for parole when he reaches 65 years of age. However, Lindhardt doesn’t believe he will be paroled at that time because of “the violent nature of the offense”. A family friend of Pope, Dianna Coules, said the following in the courtroom, “She died too young and sadly at the hands of someone she thought loved her… People deserve second chances, but not today. The community will never be safe with you in it.”


Wellsboro School Board Eliminates Four Jobs

Wellsboro HornetsOn Tuesday, June 7th, the Wellsboro Area School District school board decided to cut four jobs in order to avoid raising taxes and balance the 2016-2017 budget.

The following three positions are scheduled to be eliminated on July 1st: the full-time special education secretary, the full-time head custodian, and the part-time custodian. The elimination of the full-time special education secretary will save $39,000, while the elimination of the two custodian positions will save $56,718. The board members are scheduled to take action on the elimination of the positions at the board meeting next Tuesday.

Head custodian Ralph Toph will still be employed full-time because of his seniority. However, there will be a reduction in his salary. Full-time custodian Janet Hale will have part-time employment and she will not be on salary or have benefits. Part-time custodian Richard Ralph will be furloughed and will not have employment or salary. By July 1st, the full-time special education secretary position will be vacated due to retirement. The responsibilities of the special education secretary might go to other people on the secretarial staff. The elimination of these four positions should save $205,058.

Although the full-time Wellsboro High School assistant principal position was not a part of the June 14th agenda, the salary and benefits for the position were removed from the 2016-2017 budget. The salary for this position is $109,340. As of December 24th, 2015, when Rob Kreger became principal, the position has stayed open. David Krick retired on December 23rd, 2015.

At the May 19th budget and finance committee meeting, board members discussed the possible elimination of the full-time federal programs coordinator/director of curriculum and instruction position in order to keep the high school assistant principal position. The full-time federal programs coordinator/director of curriculum and instruction position is held by Pat Hewitt, who is also the acting Superintendent. During the work session on June 7th, Board President Matt Feil said the responsibilities could go to the high school assistant principal position. It is not known if Hewitt would then become the assistant principal.

The 2016-2017 expenditure projection is $25,262,680, while the income is $24,727,592. The district has a projected shortfall of $535,088. The district will use $423,870 from the retirement reserves. Unassigned fund balances will be used for the rest of the $111,218 shorfall. According to business manager Bonnie Thompson, there is $107,000 estimated in surplus funds from the 2015-2016 school year. However, Thompson noted there were more bills that had yet to come in. According to Thompson, there is a $1,086,231 projected budget shortfall for the 2017-2018 school year. For the 2018-2019 school year there is a projected budget shortfall of $1,632,394. For the 2019-2020 school year, there is a projected budget shortfall of $2,195,308. For the 2020-2021 school year, there is a projected budget shortfall of $2,741,450. Thompson advised against not raising taxes due to increases in contracts.

At this time, a property tax increase is not expected for the 2016-2017 budget. Property owners in Tioga County will have a millage increase of 0.032. That will bring the millage to 17.8440 from 17.8120, or 0.18% increase in taxes. For instance, a property assessed at $100,000 would see a $3.20 increase. Property owners in Lycoming County will have a millage decrease of 0.227. That will bring the millage to 13.7570 from 13.9840, or a 1.65% decrease. For instance, a property assessed at $100,000 would see a $22.70 decrease.

The following people attended the work session on Tuesday evening: Feil, Duane Cotner, John Hoover, and Tim McCratic (he attended via speaker phone). The following people were absent: Sue Judlin, Chris Gastrock, Stewart Burrous, Denise Sherman, and Wayne Hackett. The meeting was held at the Large Group Instruction room in the high school.


First Citizens Community Bank Holding Company Announces Cash, Stock Dividend for Shareholders

First Citizens Community Bank logoFirst Citizens Community Bank’s bank holding company, the Board of Directors of Citizens Financial Services, Inc. (CZFS), announced that there is a cash and stock dividend for CZFS shareholders.

According to CZFS, the cash dividend is $.415 per share, while the stock dividend is 1%. Both are payable on Thursday, June 30th, 2016, to shareholders of record on Thursday, June 23rd, 2016. Last year, the regular cash dividend was $.405. There was a 2.5% increase for this quarterly cash dividend.

CEO and President Randall E. Black issued the following statement regarding the cash and stock dividend, “As we focus on growing our Company and expanding our services in our Southcentral market, our financial performance remains strong. This strength and commitment to providing a solid return to our shareholders will continue to drive our efforts as a strong, independent community bank.”

Citizens Financial Services, Inc., a $1.2 billion bank holding company, conducts business via First Citizens Community Bank. There are 25 First Citizens Community Bank operated offices throughout Pennsylvania and New York.

The OTC Pink Market lists Citizens Financial Services, Inc. common stock. It is traded under the CZFS symbol.

Arrest Warrant Telephone Scam Hits Lycoming County

The Pennsylvania State Police in Montoursville are warning residents in Lycoming County and surrounding areas about yet another phone scam.

According to police, people were called and told that there was an arrest warrant for their relative had been arrested in another state. Then, the unknown person demanded money so that the “situation” can be resolved. Several people in the area received such phone calls.

According to police, the phone calls are fraudulent and money should not be given to the caller(s). As a reminder, you should never give out personal or financial information to unknown callers. You should also never confirm information to unknown callers.

Cause of South Williamsport House Fire that Injured 2, Left 4 Homeless Determined

The cause of the fire that left four homeless in South Williamsport on Thursday, June 9th, has been determined.

According to fire investigators, the fire began in the kitchen where cooking was left unattended. The fire spread fast. The damage estimate is not known at this time. The identities of the tenants have also not been released at this time.

The fire broke out at 1731 Riverside Drive at about 6:00 p.m. When firefighters arrived, the home was fully involved. Two children were in the home when the fire broke out. The mother ran in the home and rescued the children, and a neighbor helped as well.

The mother sustained burns to the bottom of her feet. She was taken to Williamsport Regional Medical Center for treatment, and then she was released. In addition, a firefighter was taken to the hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion. A man who lived at the residence was not home when the fire broke out.

The home is considered a total loss. A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire. At this time, it is not considered to be suspicious.


Four Charged, One Suspect at Large in Connection with East Smithfield Home Invasion Attack

Four people are facing assault and robbery charges in connection with an East Smithfield home invasion attach that left a man injured on Tuesday, June 7th.

According to police on Tuesday, the following three people were arrested in connection with the home invasion: 20-year-old Dakota M. Walters of Athens; 20-year-old Bryant T. Ashby of Milan; and 24-year-old Isaac A. Clark of Milan. The trio allegedly broke into William M. Ewing’s Route 4014 residence in Smithfield Township before allegedly physically assaulting him. Ewing was injured in the alleged attack, and he was taken to Sayre’s Robert Packer Hospital to be treated.

A fourth suspect, 18-year-old Bradley D. Stroud of Athens, was charged in connection with the home invasion attack by District Judge Jonathon Wilcox on Thursday, according to police. Stroud has yet to be located. If you know of Stroud’s whereabouts, you are asked to call state police at (570) 265-2186.

Walters, Ashby, and Clark each face the following charges: aggravated assault, simple assault, burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary, attempt to commit theft, attempted robbery, terroristic threats, criminal trespass, and criminal mischief. They were charged on Wednesday, June 8th, by District Judge Timothy Clark. They were all placed in Bradford County Prison with bails of $75,000 a piece. Please remember that the accused are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Vehicle Enters Tioga River in One Vehicle Crash, No Injuries

A Tioga teen was uninjured when the vehicle he was driving entered the Tioga River on Wednesday, June 8th.

According to police, the 16-year-old male was driving a 2005 Pontiac Montana in a south direction on State Route 287. After the teen fell asleep, the vehicle veered off the roadway and traveled onto a grass berm. The vehicle traveled for approximately 180 feet. Then, the vehicle hit some trees and entered the river. The driver was able to get out of the vehicle. The vehicle became fully submerged after the driver got out. The crash happened at about 4:20 p.m.

The driver faces a careless driving violation.


Middletown Man Allegedly Returns Unpaid Items to Mansfield Walmart

Walmart logoA Middletown, PA man is facing theft charges after he allegedly returned items to the Mansfield Walmart that he did not pay for.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police in Mansfield in a report, 31-year-old Lowell C. Laake entered the Mansfield Walmart on Saturday, June 4th, and allegedly took a comforter set and a sheet set. Then, he allegedly brought the items to the customer service desk. Next, Laake allegedly placed two Ugly Stik rod and reel combo sets and a generic brand tackle box in a shopping cart and returned to the customer service area with the cart. Laake allegedly returned the comforter and sheet set and got a gift card. Laake allegedly pushed the cart out of the store without paying for the fishing equipment. This alleged theft took place between the hours of 5:05 p.m. and 5:23 p.m.

Laake faces a Theft by Deception/Retail Theft charge. Please remember that the accused is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.


Rapid Bridge Replacement Project to Affect Traffic in Westfield Township June 13-November

penndotA  Rapid Bridge Replacement Project will affect traffic in Tioga County beginning the week of Monday, June 13th.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the bridge (JV 128) will be constructed on East Main Street (SR 49) over California Brook in Westfield Township. The work is scheduled to start on Monday, June 13th, and is expected to be finished by the beginning of November. The start date and time it takes to complete the bridge replacement project is weather permitting.

While the project is underway, drivers should expect traffic to be reduced to a single lane in either direction. The traffic will be controlled with temporary traffic signals. On average, the bridge carries 3,832 vehicles daily.

The Rapid Bridge Replacement Project is a Public-Private Partnership (P3) between Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (PWKP) and PennDOT. For a period of 25 years, PWKP is doing the replacement, maintenance, financing, and designing of the bridge. Bridges will be replaced faster while saving money, according to PennDOT.

If you would like to learn more about the  Rapid Bridge Replacement Project and P3, you can visit P3forPA.pa.gov and PARapidBridges.com.