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Victims' son takes witness stand in double murder trial

January 18, 2012

Steven P. Rebert

BROOKVILLE — The son of a slain Snyder Township couple took the witness stand Tuesday during the second day of Steven P. Rebert's double-homicide trial, saying that when he arrived at his parents' home and found both of their vehicle parked in the driveway, he began fearing the worst.
Jason Shugar, a son of the victims — Victoria and Wayne Shugar, Coal Tipple Road — said he last spoke to his parents Saturday, April 10, 2010, and described how his mother had asked him to help with removing some items in a second-floor room that the couple wanted to refurbish.
But Jason's father, Wayne, told him not to worry about it.
"He didn't like asking for help," Jason Shugar said.
The man accused of killing the parents of Jason Shugar and his siblings is Rebert, 46, formerly of Emporium, who faces double homicide charges in the shooting deaths of the Shugars, both 61.
Testifying Tuesday for District Attorney Jeffrey Burkett, Jason Shugar said he had not heard from his parents the rest of April 10 or April 11. But while working April 12, 2010, he received a call from his wife, Jennifer, who said she had received a call from Michelle Bright, an employee of Victoria Shugar at Flowers & More in Brockway.
Jennifer Shugar told her husband that Bright called her because "Vicky" was not at work for her customarily early Monday, and after repeated calls and texts, Bright had still heard nothing from her.
Jason Shugar testified that he continued working for a little bit, but then decided to ask one of his co-workers to drive him to his parents' house so he could see what the situation was.
Upon arriving at the Shugar residence on Coal Tipple Road — where Jason Shugar had grown up — he noticed that both of his parents' vehicles were parked in the driveway, and not the garage, as one of them usually was.
Entering the residence through a patio entrance, Jason Shugar looked on the first and second floors, calling his parents' names, before he decided to look in the basement, which had the house's only functioning shower.
Jason Shugar said he flipped a switch at the top of the basement stairs, which illuminated a bulb at the bottom of the staircase. He said he descended the stairs, where he found a scale at the bottom, which was off.
He looked to the left into the sewing room, and saw something unusual — a quilt lying on the floor, with a cardboard box on top.
Jason Shugar said he pulled back the quilt to find his father on his back, his right arm over his forehead. Next to his father, he found his mother, facedown, her foot  appearing from under the quilt.
Departing the house, Jason Shugar testified that he called 911 and told the dispatcher that "my parents are dead." When the dispatcher asked him if he was sure, he said he then returned to the house, this time with his co-worker following behind, and again investigated the sewing room.
He said he pulled back the quilt further to find his parents lying on the floor, waist-to-waist facing opposite directions.
Jason Shugar said he felt his father's hand, then his mother's foot, and knew they were dead.
Later Tuesday, Jefferson County Coroner Bernard P. Snyder testified that he pronounced Wayne Shugar dead at 6:20 p.m. and Vicky Shugar dead at 6:22 p.m. April 12, 2010.
In his continued testimony, Jason Shugar spoke about his father's collection of rare and unusual currency, such as red- and green-label $2 and $5 bills; Indian head coins and Sacagawea coins, among others.
Jason Shugar testified that his father would distribute some of the currency to his sons in a specific manner: loose coins in a Ziploc bag, as well as a white envelope containing the bills, and the son's name written on the envelope, which he would also place into the Ziploc bag.
Wayne Shugar distributed the currency very evenly among his children, Jason said, and generally for only special occasions, the last being the death of Vicky's mother.
Burkett asked him if, when the scene was cleared by police following the homicides, he and his brothers discovered some unusual things out of place in the kitchen.
Jason Shugar said yes: While retrieving a clean towel from a drawer, they found their father's wallet, which was not usually kept in the drawer.
He also said they found a crumpled-up wad of white paper on the counter. When they opened it, the wad was two envelopes, each bearing the name of Wayne and Vicky's son Jeff's children, Tristan and Alexandra.
Jason Shugar said there was no mistake that the handwriting on the envelope was that of his father.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney John Ingros, Jason Shugar said upon his arrival at his parents' house April 12, 2010, he found their vehicles parked unusually.

Pick up a copy of the Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.

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