09-01-2005, 01:53 PM #1
Falls man arrested after bodies of couple found in their home
This is of interest to me since it occured in my town and to people I know. Just thought I would post it. How sick is this world?
By NANCY A. FISCHER and THOMAS J. PROHASKA
News Niagara Bureau
Click to view larger picture
Charles Lewis/Buffalo News
Lewiston Police Chief Ronald R. Winkley stands outside the house on North Hewitt Drive where Gordon and Margaret Sandstrom were found slain Wednesday.
Mark Pelfrey knew victims through their daughter.
A Lewiston couple was found slain in their home Wednesday, and police arrested their daughter's estranged boyfriend in the slaying later in Arlington, Va.
Gordon and Margaret Sandstrom were found dead inside their home at 974 N. Hewitt Drive.
Police said Mark J. Pelfrey, 25, of Niagara Falls, who has a criminal record and knows the Sandstroms through their daughter, Kathy, 25, was arrested by Arlington police, who had staked out Kathy Sandstrom's apartment. She was not home at the time, but was taken to a safe location by Arlington police.
According to neighbors, Pelfrey is the father of Kathy Sandstrom's daughter.
Gordon Sandstrom, 72, was found dead in his house about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday by a family member and neighbors, Niagara County Sheriff's Department Chief Investigator Bruce Roth Roth said.
Pelfrey was arrested after driving up to the apartment house in Mrs. Sandstrom's 2005 gold Toyota Highlander SUV, police said.
At first, deputies believed Mrs. Sandstrom, 64, had been kidnapped, but as forensics investigators moved deliberately through the house, they discovered her body about four hours later in a back bedroom.
Roth said Kathy Sandstrom became concerned when she couldn't reach her parents and contacted relatives in Youngstown and a neighbor, asking them to check the house.
The investigator said it was possible that the Sandstroms were killed sometime after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Niagara County Coroner Russell E. Jackman said that Mrs. Sandstrom was strangled; her husband was bludgeoned with a hammer. He added that her body was concealed beneath a pile of clothes on hangers.
Pelfrey accessed an ATM machine using Margaret Sandstrom's card in Niagara Falls after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Roth said.
Lewiston Police Chief Ronald Winkley said Pelfrey used one of the victim's ATM cards to withdraw money at an ATM on Military Road in the Town of Niagara. A camera inside the machine took Pelfrey's picture.
There were no court orders of protection against Pelfrey. Winkley said there had been no reports of any domestic incidents at the North Hewitt Drive home.
Roth said Kathy Sandstrom had moved to Arlington about a month ago. He said police suspect she moved there to try to get away from Pelfrey.
Pelfrey has yet to be formally charges in the slayings. He was being held on parole violation charges and is expected to appear in an Arlington court today.
Pelfrey was released from a Schuyler County prison shock camp in late April, according to state Department of Correctional Services records, after serving time for attempted burglary of Mario's Convenience Store in Niagara Falls. He is wanted for a parole violation and is a suspect in an armed robbery that occurred Monday, Niagara Falls police said.
In 2001, he was charged with felony assault and resisting arrest after he kicked a police officer in the face while trying to avoid arrest, according to News archives.
Neighbor Charlene Clive, who lives across the street from the Sandstroms, said, "They were such nice people. They'd do anything for you. Every night Gordon sits on the porch and is one of those people who always seems to know what's going on in the neighborhood. It's hard to believe we didn't even know what was going on." Family members gathered at the house were in shock. A female relative could only say, "This is a very difficult time for us."
http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20050901/1011140.aspShawn M. Cecula
IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS
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