A look back at 2014 top stories: Murder in Clay

By on December 17, 2014

First in a series of the year in review

It’s been almost three months since two intruders murdered Brett Simmons and gunned down his father James inside the family’s Clay Township home.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman.

Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman.

In that time, the public has learned nothing more about the murder besides that it is somehow drug-related. District Attorney Craig Stedman this week reiterated his view that withholding information is the best policy in solving the crime.

Stedman refused to provide details on how authorities determined this case is drug-related, what Simmons’ involvement was, or even what drugs are involved. The “drug-related” revelation alleviated fears that it was a random attack that could occur again in the rural Clay community.

However, in reality it may have raised more questions than providing answers about the Sept. 25 shootings and death of the 23-year-old Simmons, a 2009 Ephrata High School graduate. James Simmons, who was shot and found wounded on the Clearview Road home’s second floor, recovered from the gun shot wound.

“We are investigating every link in the drug chain we have been able to establish,” Stedman noted on Monday. “I cannot say much more than the investigators are sifting through a lot of information and data.”

While refusing to say the case is “cold,” Stedman wouldn’t budge on offering any leads as to where the two intruders who entered the Simmons home that night might be from or what type of physical evidence has been collected at the scene.

Police are still investigating the murder of Brett Simmons, a 2009 Ephrata High School graduate, gunned down in his hoome on Sept. 25.

Police are still investigating the murder of Brett Simmons, a 2009 Ephrata High School graduate, gunned down in his hoome on Sept. 25.

“Sometimes cases just take time but you are always concerned the longer a case goes without an arrest the harder it could become to solve,” Stedman said. “However, the investigators have a lot more to do and we are far from saying the case is cold or over.”

Authorities have not released the caliber of the murder weapon or even whether both men were armed. Stedman apologized but made clear of the DA’s strategy.

“We are intentionally withholding some of the details you are seeking to help preserve our ability to determine the authenticity of future statements,” Stedman said in an e-mail. “We want to know that (a potential) witness could not have learned the information from the media.”

Look for our look back on more top 2014 stories including the Green Dragon Fire, Improved War Memorial Field, Ephrata Fair, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and more throughout December in The Ephrata Review.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455

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