Crime Investigations
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April 06, 2017

D.A.: Pennsylvania man killed ex-girlfriend with handmade air rifle

Detectives construct own weapon to bolster evidence in 'unique' case

Prosecutors announced charges against a Pennsylvania man on Wednesday for allegedly constructing an air rifle and using it to kill his ex-girlfriend.

Authorities found Stephanie Roof lying dead in her Lower Macungie Township driveway in September 2016 with an injury consistent with a gunshot wound to her chest.

Josef Charles Raszler, 35, who lived across the street from Roof, was questioned by police and initially said he did not know Roof very well.

He later admitted to having an intimate relationship with Roof, and investigators discovered Roof had broke it off in the summer of 2015, a decision that Raszler was angry with and not accepting of, the Lehigh Valley District Attorney's office said.

A search of Raszler's home later uncovered tools and equipment typically used in the construction of an air gun, police said. Among the items reportedly found were a copper pipe with markings consistent with rifling, air tanks, copper barrel pipe with an air-gun trigger and large amounts of melted and bulk lead.

Raszler allegedly purchased these items in May and Jone 2016, and investigators also allege he had searched the internet for “high pressure air pump gun” and “most powerful air rifle" using his laptop.

In the days leading up to Roof's death, Raszler allegedly stayed at his parents’ lake house in Schuylkill County, where police later allegedly found projectiles similar to ones found in Roof's yard, as well as a target with markings consistent with those projectiles.

Detectives constructed their own air gun with materials similar to those allegedly found in Raszler's residence, and used it to fire projectiles similar to those reportedly found in Roof's yard shortly after her death,

"I believe this to be a unique case and one in which we needed to be able to show the feasibility of making an air gun which could discharge a projectile of the type found; and that this type projectile would be capable of penetrating the human body, causing death," District Attorney Jim Martin said.

"Accordingly, it was a painstaking and time-consuming investigation.”

Raszler is charged with homicide and being held at Lehigh County Jail without bail.