QUINCY, Pa. >> Hours after authorities began investigating the shooting deaths of three people in a central Pennsylvania home, the man later charged in the case admitted to state police that he’d “messed up.”
The suspect, Kevin Cleeves of Waynesboro, said that in retrospect he never should have gone to the home of his estranged wife’s boyfriend Friday night, even if he was concerned about the welfare of his 4-year-old daughter.
Because there, authorities alleged, he quarreled with his wife and her boyfriend in front of the girl and was told to leave but instead opened fire, shooting to death the two adults as well as the man’s mother. He then fled with the girl 250 miles to neighboring Ohio, where he was arrested and his daughter was recovered safely.
Cleeves was charged with three counts of criminal homicide in the deaths of 25-year-old Brandi Cleeves, 28-year-old Vincent Santucci and 55-year-old Rosemary Holma and was awaiting an extradition hearing Monday. Court records listed no attorney for him.
Detectives in Ohio declined to say where his daughter, Leia, was on Sunday.
Kevin Cleeves, 35, was headed for Michigan in hopes of getting the girl to his aunt’s house, according to an affidavit filed in court in Pennsylvania.
He called his aunt about an hour after the slayings, and he was “drinking and mad,” she told police. He admitted to her that he was behind the shootings and she called police.
Cleeves got as far as Austintown, Ohio, just over the Pennsylvania state line, where he was arrested in a hotel parking lot.
Santucci’s father, Vincent L. Santucci Sr., told The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., that that his son, a chef, had only known Brandi Cleeves for little more than a month but they had a positive energy between them.
“He was a kind person, loving son and brother,” he said.
Santucci Sr. said his former wife was a wonderful mother who had put herself through nursing school and found her calling as a nurse.
“We think she died running to help her son,” he said.