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First group of witnesses take stand in Donachy trial

October 10, 2011

Lawrence Earl Donachy

Among the first group of witnesses to take the stand Monday on the opening day of the homicide trial of Lawrence Earl Donachy were Kelly Bauer of St. Marys, the daughter of murder victim Irene Challingsworth; Judith Wendel of St. Marys, a long-time client of Challingsworth; Diane Scutella of St. Marys, a former employee of Consolidated News Agency in 1999; Bill Brem of Tampa, Fla., a retired St. Marys City Police officer; and Cpl. Jeffrey Kunselman of the Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police's Forensic Services Unit.
During Bauer's testimony, she recollected the events of Monday, April 5, 1999, stating she was working at Stoltz of St. Marys when Challingsworth visited her following her shopping trip to DuBois and volunteered to watch her 5-year-old granddaughter until Bauer was done working. Bauer later picked up her daughter at Challingsworth's home, where they all ate dinner together.
Bauer said her mother visited her later that evening around 7 p.m., excited to show off her $1,000 winning lottery ticket. At the time, Challingsworth took her granddaughter on a short walk to the nearby Uni-Mart, now Fuel On, located on S. Michael Road, where she inquired about how to cash in her ticket. According to testimony, Challingsworth departed Bauer's W. Eschbach Road residence around 8:45 p.m. This was the final time she saw her mother alive.
The next day Bauer's husband, Timothy, visited her at work, where he told her he heard something on the scanner and they needed to go Challingsworth's home immediately. Police would not allow Bauer into the home upon her arrival.
During cross-examination, defense attorney George Daghir showed Bauer several portions of the St. Marys City Police report in order to refresh her recollection of her previous statements to police.
He stated that Challingsworth's two shotguns, which she used to shoot trap and skeet, were not missing from her home following her death. Daghir also touched on the fact that her boyfriend, Tom Feldbauer, possessed a key to her home and returned it sometime after April 6.
Bauer said Feldbauer helped her clean her mother's home following the police investigation.
Daghir questioned Bauer concerning her mother's security habits, to which Bauer replied that she was very secure in keeping her house locked.
He also questioned her in regard to her observance of any damage done to the home's doors. Bauer said she did not notice any major damage.
Bauer also testified that St. Marys City Police submitted the winning lottery ticket for Bauer, who needed to supply a death certificate in order to receive the winnings, because her mother had already signed the back of the ticket.
She also stated her mother hosted Easter Sunday dinner the day prior to her death. Among the guests in attendance were Bauer, Bauer's husband and daughter, Jean and Joe Bologna and Helen Fox, Challingsworth's mother.
Defense attorney Shawn McMahon inquired about the number of telephones in Challingsworth's home, to which Bauer answered there were three, two hardwired devices and one cordless phone. The cordless phone was found under the kitchen table, which Bauer found to be unusual after surveying the house on April 7 when she was initially permitted inside.
Bauer noted that her mother informed her previously that there were large sums of money inside the house totaling between $3,000-$5,000. Money was also stored inside Challingsworth's beauty shop box, which was stored under her bedroom dresser. Challingsworth's beauty shop was located on the ground floor of her two-story home.
McMahon emphasized that $1,000 worth of savings bonds were recovered from the scene, as well as $1,000 in cash.

Pick up a copy of the Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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