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Middletown man in prison tried to have his wife killed so she couldn't testify against him, DA says

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 3/7/19

A Middletown man in Dauphin County Prison awaiting trial on charges that he beat his wife has been charged with trying to hire an assassin while behind bars to prevent her from testifying against …

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Middletown man in prison tried to have his wife killed so she couldn't testify against him, DA says

Posted

A Middletown man in Dauphin County Prison awaiting trial on charges that he beat his wife has been charged with trying to hire an assassin while behind bars to prevent her from testifying against him.

Leroy Newton Vencak Jr., 32, was being held in prison on $150,000 after Middletown police arrested him on charges that he had assaulted his wife on Aug. 10, 2018.

According to arrest papers borough police submitted following the August 2018 incident, Vencak had slammed the victim’s head through a bedroom door and then slammed her head through a separate door.

Vencak then allegedly placed his hands around the victim’s neck, causing her to briefly lose consciousness, attacked the woman with a small butcher knife, and threatened to kill her if she contacted police, according to arrest records.

The victim was taken by ambulance to the Milton S. Hershey Penn State Health Medical Center for treatment.

On Thursday, Vencak was arraigned before District Judge Michael Smith on the new charge of criminal solicitation — criminal homicide.

Smith ordered that Vencak be held in county prison but denied bail. Vencak’s preliminary hearing on the new charge is set for March 27 before Smith.

According to arrest papers filed with Smith by the district attorney’s office, a county detective on Dec. 7, 2018, learned that Vencak had sent a note to another inmate in the county prison, requesting the inmate find Vencak an assassin to kill his wife.

Vencak and the other inmate were both members of a prison gang known as Dead Men Incorporated, or DMI, according to the arrest papers.

On Jan. 25, a person identified in arrest papers as a “cooperating witness” told the detective that he was now in verbal communication with Vencak in the county prison, and that Vencak had told the witness that he needed his wife killed “immediately” because the trial was coming up soon.

Vencak told the cooperating witness that he needed the assassin’s address, so that Vencak could mail the assassin the address to his wife’s home, according to the arrest papers filed with Smith.

The detective set up a fake post office box address and a fake name for the assassin, which were both provided to Vencak through the cooperating witness.

On Feb. 5, the detective learned that a letter had been received at the post office box. The letter provided the name of Vencak’s wife, her address, the ages of the children living in the home, the locations of their rooms and other information about the residence, according to the arrest papers.

The detective seized the letter as evidence. The victim recognized the handwriting in the letter as being Vencak’s, according to the arrest papers.

Vencak while being interviewed by two county detectives on March 5 initially denied writing the prison note or the letter to the post office box wanting to have his wife killed, according to arrest papers.

However, Vencak later admitted to writing the note and the letter, after the detectives told him that the letter was being sent to the Pennsylvania State Police forensic laboratory to be tested for DNA and fingerprint analysis.

Vencak admitted to the detectives that a “take 5” reference in the prison note meant that he wanted his wife killed, and that he considered his wife a “blackout” — an inmate term for a police informer or “rat” — because she had told police on him and she had refused to drop the felony criminal charges against him, according to the arrest papers.

Vencak had been scheduled for trial on the August charges in Dauphin County Court on Feb. 11. The trial was delayed to March 4.

The DA’s office said that upon learning of the murder plot, the DA alerted the potential victim so that she could relocate while the investigation proceeded.