Slain pregnant Amish woman had cuts to her head and neck: Pennsylvania police

Search warrant filings for the Pennsylvania home where a pregnant Amish woman was killed this week said she appeared to have suffered cutting wounds to her neck and head.

Two search warrants were issued at the request of state police regarding Monday's slaying of Rebekah A. Byler, 23. Her body was found in the living room of her home a few miles from Spartansburg.

The slaying shocked the rural community in northwestern Pennsylvania, where people say the Amish, who restrict the use of technology and are known for their traditional clothing, get on well with non-Amish in the area.

The warrant applications regarding the home and outbuildings that were submitted by an investigator, Trooper Adam Black, said the victim's husband, Andy Byler, found her body "a short distance inside" the home shortly after noon.

Black wrote that a woman, previously described by police as a family friend, called 911 at 12:36 p.m. to report that she and Andy Byler found Rebekah Byler unresponsive when they arrived.


Trooper Cynthia Schick told The Associated Press on Thursday the investigation and autopsy have given police an idea of what the murder weapon may have been, but they do not have it in their possession.

Two young Byler children at the home were not harmed, Schick has said.

Arriving at the crime scene, state police officers found Rebekah Byler on her back in the living room, Black wrote. The warrants sought knives, blades, cutting instruments and other items.

Police have not said how she was killed. They also said they have not developed any suspects and want the public to contact them with any tips.

The home is located along a dirt road in a very remote farming area. There were no signs of activity Thursday afternoon at the house, where a buggy, a bike and a truck were parked outside. A few miles away, a gift shop displayed a handwritten sign offering prayers for their Amish neighbors.

Scores of Amish turned out for calling hours Thursday evening at a home in the community. Many arrived by buggies lit by headlights along the narrow country roads. A representative of the community told a reporter outside the home that the community would not be commenting on the matter.

Lindsey Smith, president of the women’s auxiliary of the Spartansburg Volunteer Fire Department, said everyone is "sad and shocked" by the tragedy.

"It’s not something that happens around here," she said as she and other volunteers prepared food on Thursday afternoon at the department for its Friday fish fry. "We’re worried about our Amish."

Residents said the Amish had a longstanding presence here and mix well with the surrounding community. Amish and non-Amish visit each other's homes, and the Amish work jobs for the non-Amish and attend events like the fish fries, they said. Neighbors have been raising money to help the Byler family.

"They are a big part of our community," Smith said. "They support us a lot."

Katie Rhodes, a waitress at the Dutch Treat Restaurant in Spartansburg’s small business district, said people are still absorbing the shock of the news.

"My heart breaks for the family, for the little kids," she said.

The Amish generally follow basic Christian beliefs and practices but are not homogeneous, according to the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. They are known for simple clothing and for relying on horses and buggies for transportation. Local congregations maintain a variety of rules and restrictions regarding dress, the use of technology and participation in American society.

The overall Amish population is nearly 400,000 people in hundreds of settlements across 32 states, Canada and Bolivia. Pennsylvania has one of the greatest concentrations of Amish.


Scolforo reported from Lemoyne, Pennsylvania.