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Monday, February 11, 2008

[PA] Susan Louise Fyock (Burkhart) 12/16/1968 - 6/10/2002

...Police say the killing came moments after Fyock, a divorced mother of three, appeared briefly on her front porch and announced to a neighbor that she was "throwing Craig out." Then, in the kitchen of the home, Knepper shot Fyock and began sobbing as the youngster screamed, "Why did you kill my mommy?"...
JOHNSTOWN OFFICER HELD IN SLAYING OF HIS GIRLFRIEND ARRESTED AFTER FLEEING WITH BOY, 4, LEAVING HIM WITH GRANDMOTHER
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
Tom Gibb
June 12, 2002
[Excerpts] The sign is half the size of a checkerboard, hand-lettered with a wood burner. "Craig & Sue's Place," it says... Monday night, Craig - veteran Johnstown police Officer Craig Knepper, 35 - exploded during an argument with Sue -- divorced mother of three Susan Louis Fyock , 33. As Fyock 's 4-year-old boy watched, Knepper aimed a handgun from little more than an arm's length away and killed the woman with a gunshot to the head... Within three hours of the shooting, before Knepper could cross the few hundred yards to U.S. Route 219 and go north again, a local police officer stopped the car - with a man officers won't identify at the wheel and another man riding with Knepper. Yesterday, Knepper, a police officer with 12 years on Johnstown's 46-person force, was in Cambria County Prison without bail, facing charges topped by first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence... Neighbors and friends told of police coming when Knepper and Fyock tangled before, of Fyock 's lament that Knepper would drink too much. Asked if Knepper was under mental health care, Johnstown's recently hired Police Chief William Clark refused comment. Asked if Knepper approached anyone in the department about getting care for himself, Clark replied, "It's conceivable, but I'm not going to comment on it." -- "I was told that last week, he pulled out a gun and put it to his head," said Bruce Fyock, father of Fyock's former husband... "The police were called up there a couple times, maybe three times," 16-year-old neighbor Nicole Furnari said... The final turn in the relationship came just before 10 Monday night, when Fyock came out of her half of the duplex and told Daria Auguste, the resident of the other side, that "she had enough of Craig and was throwing him out," a police affidavit says. Then, Fyock went back inside... Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski said Knepper fired into Fyock's head and thigh. Investigators haven't determined yet if he was using his .40-caliber police gun...


FORMER JOHNSTOWN POLICE OFFICER TO FACE TRIAL IN GIRLFRIEND'S KILLING
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
TOM GIBB
July 19, 2002
[Excerpts] A former Johnstown police officer was ordered yesterday to face trial on murder charges in the death of his live-in girlfriend last month in front of her 4-year-old son at the duplex they shared. While they've made no move to dispute that 12-year veteran officer Craig Knepper is the killer, his lawyers are angling toward a defense in which they would claim that mental health problems and possibly other factors left the 35-year-old defendant unable to properly form the intent to kill. If the strategy works, it could erase the chance that Knepper would be convicted of first-degree murder and risk the death penalty or life in prison without parole... State police say that moments after Fyock emerged momentarily from the house and told a neighbor she planned "to throw Craig out," an argument broke out, followed by gunshots and the sound of Fyock's crying son pleading, "Craig, take me to my grandma's, take me to my grandma's." Knepper, too, was crying -- and still crying when he phoned his 75-year-old mother, pleading for help but refusing her offer to come to the house, telling her, "I don't want you to see what I did," police say. Defense co-counsel Arthur McQuillan said after the hearing that Knepper, who resigned from the police force shortly after the killing, was under care from a psychologist and a psychiatrist at the time of the homicide. "The defense position is that he couldn't form the specific intent to kill," McQuillan said...

DEATH PENALTY WON'T BE SOUGHT
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)
TOM GIBB
August 14, 2002
[Excerpts] Prosecutors said yesterday that they will not seek the death penalty for a former Johnstown police officer charged with killing his girlfriend two months ago... That means that, if he goes to trial, Craig Knepper's greatest risk is life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. Knepper's attorney could be counting on far less than that -- not contesting that Knepper was the killer but considering a defense that Knepper was drunk at the time and not able to clearly form the intent to kill... Police say the killing came moments after Fyock , a divorced mother of three, appeared briefly on her front porch and announced to a neighbor that she was "throwing Craig out." Then, in the kitchen of the home, Knepper shot Fyock and began sobbing as the youngster screamed, "Why did you kill my mommy?" police say.... Knepper, a 12-year veteran of the Johnstown police force, resigned from jail, where he has been held without bail since he was arrested several hours after the killing.

FORMER JOHNSTOWN POLICEMAN PLEADS GUILTY IN GIRLFRIEND'S FATAL SHOOTING
Jan 12 2003
[Excerpts] A former Johnstown police officer pleaded guilty to fatally shooting his girlfriend... By pleading guilty, Craig Knepper, 36, avoids the possibility of a life sentence for first-degree murder. A plea agreement worked out with prosecutors calls for him to face 20 to 40 years in prison - the maximum sentence for third-degree murder. The 14-year-police veteran was drinking heavily and taking anti-anxiety medication when he shot Susan Fyock, 33, in the head in June. Fyock died in the kitchen of the Johnstown duplex the couple shared... There were no officers from the Johnstown force present when Knepper pleaded guilty this week. Knepper acknowledged that he has a history of mental illness and had been treated by psychiatrists for anxiety and a panic disorder. "He was drinking heavily that day and also taking Xanax and several medications," Gleason said. "That combination clouded his judgment, as well as his anger and restraint in firing the weapon." District Attorney David Tulowitzki said the plea agreement was acceptable to Fyock's family. "The family wanted closure, which is what they received," Tulowitzki said.

JOHNSTOWN POLICE OFFICER SENTENCED FOR MURDER
Post-Gazette
By Tom Gibb
March 11, 2003
[Excerpts] A veteran Johnstown police officer was sentenced today to 20 to 40 years in state prison for killing his live-in girlfriend last spring - a shooting that his defenders say came after a psychological collapse brought on by work and family stresses. Craig Knepper, 36, originally charged with first-degree murder that could have gotten him life in prison, pleaded guilty in December to third-degree murder. That was prosecutors' concession that Knepper had downed a bottle of vodka and a high dose of his prescription tranquilizer Xanax and may not have been able to form the intent to kill that is needed to buttress a first-degree charge. Police say that after a brief, loud argument on June 10, Knepper shot his girlfriend, Susan Fyock, 33, as they stood in the kitchen of the duplex they shared in Johnstown. Fyock's 4-year-old son watched... The defendant's brother, the Rev. Roger Knepper, dressed in his clerical garments as a Church of the Brethren minister, told of times when Knepper would arrive home after seeing a teenager who committed suicide or handling a child-abuse case. "He'd be emotionally distraught. He couldn't eat," Roger Knepper told the hearing. "He would throw up."

PERSONALITY CHANGE TURNS JOHNSTOWN COP INTO INMATE
Post-Gazette
Tom Gibb
March 12, 2003
[Excerpts] There was the Craig Knepper of a decade ago - religious, trying to be both standout police officer to the city of Johnstown and stand-up father to his two daughters - his clergyman brother told a Cambria County court yesterday. Then there was the Craig Knepper of a couple of years ago - drinking, out of his 13-year marriage and into an erratic relationship with a live-in girlfriend... By his brother's account, it was the second Craig Knepper, primed with vodka and prescription tranquilizers, who climaxed a loud argument with girlfriend Susan Fyock, 33, by shooting her to death in June in their Johnstown duplex. Yesterday, as relatives of both gunman and victim watched and wept, Cambria County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Swope sentenced 36-year-old Craig Knepper, who had pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, to 20 to 40 years in state prison. But the case won't end here. Pittsburgh lawyer Timothy Schweers promised that he would file a federal lawsuit on behalf of Fyock's estate, charging that the city of Johnstown failed to protect the mother of three, despite indications that Knepper was veering out of control... "He had a hard time establishing the boundaries between his emotional life and the people he served," [his older brother] Roger Knepper said...

JOHNSTOWN, POLICE, OFFICIALS SUED OVER KILLER OFFICER
Post-Gazette
Tom Gibb
March 21, 2003
[Excerpts] When he was a Johnstown police officer, Craig Knepper was a violent man with a drug and alcohol problem, and things only got worse before he murdered his girlfriend last year in the duplex apartment they shared, according to a federal lawsuit filed yesterday. What's more, police should have known of Knepper's mean bent; he showed it on the job, and police were called to his home when it flared, according to the complaint. But Knepper never was suspended, taken off active duty, stripped of his weapons or required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, the lawsuit charges. For that, murder victim Susan Fyock's estate faults Knepper's former bosses in the city of Johnstown. The lawsuit, a civil rights action filed in federal court in Pittsburgh, asks for undisclosed damages from city government, its police department, then-Police Chief William Clark, Mayor Donato Zucco and Knepper himself, who was sentenced last week in Cambria County court to 20 to 40 years in state prison. "It seems to me that everybody in Johnstown who knew him knew he was a danger," Timothy Schweers, the Pittsburgh attorney who filed the lawsuit, said yesterday... After a brief argument in June, Knepper shot Fyock in their home as her 4-year-old son watched. Johnstown police were so concerned when Knepper fled the duplex and briefly disappeared that they posted armed officers at a parking garage overlooking the building housing city police offices. Asked at the time if Knepper approached anyone in the department about getting psychiatric care, Clark replied, "It's conceivable, but I'm not going to comment on it." The 15-count lawsuit charges constitutional rights violations that include Johnstown officials' failure to rein in a law officer known for violence and substance abuse...
 [police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities murder pennsylvania state politics]

18 comments:

  1. AnonymousMay 20, 2011

    I knew Sue, and I knew Craig. I was the babysitter of the 4 year old. I can tell you that I think about this often, I think about them often. I was only 14yrs old when "it" happened. It affected the entire community. I do think the Johnstown police department did a poor job of making sure that Craig was mentally stable. This could have been prevented, 3 kids would still have a mother, her parents would still have a daughter and her friends would still have Sue. Craig should have been suspended the 1st time the police were ever called, or they should have at least done an extensive look into his mental health. It's too late now, and I hope the force has learned to act on domestic violence and take it serious no matter what, or who is involved. I can't believe it's been almost 10 years. She shouldn't be forgotten, I believe there should be a memorial in her name, paid for by Johnstown police. I know it's too much to ask, but I know I will light a candle for Sue this June 10th.

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  2. I think that's a good idea... the memorial. Thank you for sharing here.

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  3. AnonymousJune 13, 2011

    Craig Nepper had many problems. He moved out of Susans home on many occasions. One time she thought he was gone and he was hiding in the attic for three days. On another occasion he threatened to shoot Dalton (her son) if she was 10 minutes late getting home from work. He had a minor conflict with a 80 year old neighbor lady so he climbed on her roof and cut her cable and phone line. He fell off and broke his leg which he claimed was a work related accident and was collecting workmans comp. for. I know this because I am Susans Father.

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    1. Jen (the babysitter)March 28, 2012

      I remember when he was hiding in the attic, I was supposed to babysit that night. It was creepy. I also remember when he cut her line and collected workmans comp.

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  4. Thank you. I'm so so sorry that you lost your daughter this way. I would love to know anything about her. All I know is from when she was in the paper as a "victim" - but everyone is so much more than that. I invite you to share some of who Susan was a person - as a woman, a daughter, a mother, or friend to people in her life. It is very dissettling and feels disrespectful to her life to not have a photo OR anything PERSONAL about her. Her life was stolen, and that is so

    cruel and unfair.

    Much love to your family.

    Cloud

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  5. AnonymousJune 13, 2011

    Susan was so well liked that after her funeral they had a candelight vigil that took up the whole bock in front of her house and had to baracade the street from traffic. It's hard to beleive that Craig Knepper was a preacher before he became a policeman. Susans three boys are doing Ok and all are very active in school sports.

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  6. AnonymousJune 13, 2011

    Contributing this that I had copied from a link that isn't there anymore.

    "I love you Sue

    About a year ago i met a lady that i would soon be babysitting for Named Sue. She was probably the Nicest person i had ever been close to. She had a son named Dalton who was 3 at the time and a boyfriend Named Craig... he was a police officer. it was easy to see that they loved eachother... they had even had eachother's names tatooed to them. I had known them for about a year and Grew to love them both a lot. Towards the end of their relationship they had some problems... Craig had been depressed from his failing marriage but would not divorce because he had before been a reverand and divorce was a sin... He had also hurt his leg falling off of a ladder and was in a brace... he couldn't work and also couldn't take care of sues son because he was too active and craig couldn't walk too well so my friend and i stayed at the house with Dalton and Craig. Craig loved dalton so much like he was his own son... He played with him and watched movies with him and everything. I had also spent alot of time with Craig... He was like an Uncle or so to me. He helped me with my homework and joked around with me... i would call him Gimpy and stuff cuz he couldn't walk and he found that funny. He was an all around great guy. But apparently he and sue had been arguing about him being Lazy because he wouldn't clean up after the dog and he had been drinking alot since he had been off of his depression pills. One day she had come downstairs before she had to leave for work and told us that she had seen him holding a gun to his head and she told him that if he was gonna kill himself to do it in his car not infront of her son. the monday after that she had called and told me that her son was going to his grandma's house so she didnt need us to babysit, but we would be there tomorrow. later that night i was going to call her and tell her that i was going to Maryland for 2 weeks on that friday... It was 9:55 PM when i picked up the phone but then realized it was a little bit late so i would just tell her tomorrow. I wish i would have called her that night. at around 10:05 her and Craig had been fighting and he shot her infront of her 4 year old son who had just come back from his grandmothers house. Once in the face and once in the thigh. At 4:00AM my sister called to tell me that she had heard what had happened... In the newspaper it said that he had held the boy hostage... I have never been more terrified in my life. Dalton was my world... I loved him more than myself. then i found out that he was ok and Craig had been arrested. Just 3 days ago i went to Craigs preliminary hearing before the trial. I wanted to badly to say hello to him and let him kno that even though what he did was wrong... and i could never forgive him for it... i still love him and i still think of him all the time. Though i also miss Sue... I know that i will never see her in this life again... But knowing that craig is still alive and i can't talk to him causes so much agony. And as for the little boy... i still speak to him and one of the things he had asked me is if i hate "Craiggy" now and i told him no... and he said "me Nether... I love craiggy" and he asked me if i miss Craig and i said yes and he said that he wants to go get him out of jail cuz he wants to watch michael Meyers with him and "Coby" (the dog). I know that the boy should understand what craig did... and im sure he does... But Craig was like a father to him and for him to hate him would be so terrible... like losing 2 parents instead of one.

    I love you Sue... I Miss you too... and lifes so Hard... Without you.

    in loving memory of Susan Louise (Burkhart) Fyock. you mean the world to me..."

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  7. AnonymousJune 13, 2011

    I wouldn't be comfortable with a babysitter being that attached to my man.

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    1. Jen (the babysitter)March 28, 2012

      There were 2 babysitters, Myself (Jen) another. I won't give her name. But it's not that she was "close" to him, he and Sue were like our other family. Sumtimes we spent more time there than at our own house. I remember going over and Sue would play with my hair. Her friends would have "O*Town" playing for us when we got there. Craig really didn't talk to us much, but when he did it was always in a kidding way. Than we started to see he darker side come out, through the things Sue would tell us. She wouldn't give details but she would give us insight incase he came home while we were there.

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  8. AnonymousJune 14, 2011

    My Aunt susan was an amazing, loving and Kind person..I still miss her very much and I dont feel it was fair that she was stolen from our lifes so soon..She missed her 3 wonderful boys growing up, going to prom, and Playing sports...all the great things they will do and become..She was like my best friend and I knew if I needed someone to talk to I could always count on her..I just wish something would have been done before it got to this point..Its sad and still hurts all of us til this day..

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  9. I have read this post before but have never been able to comment till now...
    Sue and I had became friends when I was just 15 years old.I was interduced to her by a good friend...The more time I spent with sue the more I grew to Love her. We would take walks together, go to festavils, concerts or just long drives...I watched her 2 sons and was there for the birth of Dalton! after awhile Sue and I had lost touch and hadnt talked for 2 years and the afternoon before she was so vicously taken from us I had ran into her and the boys at a gas station we hugged and talked like no time had ever passed... the following day Sue was coming to my house to see my wedding pictures and see my new home..we were so excited to reconnect! She had given me her phone # and told me to call her that evening..I did just that but all I kept getting was a busy signal...found it odd but thought I would just talk to her in the morning, The morning never came for Sue! My old fried was taken from me and I never got to say goodbye...
    Sue was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother, and a friend.. that was taken from this life at someone elses hand. I miss her so much every day and not a day goes by that I dont think of her at some point ...I never knew Craig nor do I want to...I have forgiven him in my own way but I will never forget the friend that he took away and away my right to say good~bye...
    I can still sit back and think about all the fun times I shared with my friend and can still hear her laugh and smell her amariage perfume :)
    Sue would be so proud of her 3 boys now...They are all grown and so very handsome and she loved them more than life.. I hope they know that she lived for them!
    Sue...I miss you more and more everyday and wish you were here to know my to beautiful kids...they would have loved you and you them! Please know that I love you and will never say good~bye! Till we meet again
    Love Nay

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  10. AnonymousMay 23, 2012

    I think about this all the time. It hurts to know that someone in my family was taken away from us like this. I never got to meet my Aunt Susan and that hurts! Although I feel like I knew her because my mom keeps her picture in her living room and we always laugh about how my mom and my aunt Susan could pass for identical twins. Everytime I see her picture it makes me smile because(even though i didn't know her) i could tell her smile was one that lit up a room.

    Fly High Aunt Susan, I know we have the most beautiful angel watching over all of us<3

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  11. Shannon S.June 10, 2012

    I've been here a few times myself & could never say anything cuz it was to hard. I can still hear Dalton callin 4 her from room to room saying (in ozzys voice) SUUUUUUSSSSSSAAAAANNNNN! It was so cute! I think about all the times we spent 2gether @ the house either hangin out, doin our nails, tanning etc..... I miss u so much Suzie Q, more n more as the yrs go by... My heart breaks every time i think about how much u've missed over the past 10 yrs and how much the boys have missed having such a WONDERFUL mother. U r and always will be in my heart! Untill we meet again my beautiful friend xxoo I LOVE N MISS U SOOOOO MUCH! U were & are one of the greatest woman, friend n mother I've ever had the pleasure of knowing! I miss u so very mu h!! Im coming up 2 visit u n lay flowers n maybe just chat like old times.... xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

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    1. Shannon S.June 12, 2012

      Well kiddo, I haven't made it up 2 see u yet but as soon as this crazy weather calms down I'll be there. Ive finally stopped crying, for the most part, so i think driving won't be 2 difficult. If u can have a chat w/ the Almighty n let him kno I need some sunshine so I can come visit u I'd really appreciate it girl =)
      I'm not sure who set this up, but i think i may kno, n I THANK YOU! At least w/ this here i can visit u everyday. I wish i could give u a heads up on the boys but I KNOW UR WATCHING OVER THEM so u kno whats happening in their lives. Dont be surprised if I stop by here everyday now just 2 say hi n 2 let everyone kno what a TREMENDOUS person u were!
      Save me a spot at the tanning bed babe ;)
      I miss u so much Sue!!!!! <3 xoxoxoxoxo <3

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  12. I MISS U SO MUCH SUSAN :'( I have some good days but today isn't one of them. I wish I could just pick up the phone n give u a call so u could tell me everythings gonna be ok!! U kept me held together on days like this one. This just isn't fair!!!!!! <3 xoxoxoxo <3

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  13. Shannon SalaDecember 15, 2012

    Well only a few more hours till u hit 44 Susie Q!!!! Happy early birthday my beautiful friend..... I love u n miss u more n more every day :'( <3<3<3<3<3

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  14. Shannon SalaJune 10, 2013

    Here it is, another yr gone by w/o u....Man its been a tough one. I miss u sweetie, more then ever, especially today! I love u and I'm hoping to come see u <3 xoxoxoxoxo

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