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Former Cocalico studentscharged in Clay murder
“There was a group of them Lynch hung out with around town – a gang of them everybody here knew about,” said one Adamstown resident Sunday near the 100 block of East Main Street where Lynch used to live.
“You knew they were trouble,” he said.
Records say a purse belonging to murder victim Ashley Lynn Kline – found across the street from Lynch’s former residence – led investigators to file murder charges on Jan. 15 against Lynch and Ryan Schannauer, both former Cocalico High School students.
• According to court records, just 11 days after his 21st birthday, Lynch, and Schannauer, 19, picked up Kline, a 23-year-old Robesonia woman whose relatives say had a reduced capacity to “sense trouble” due to lead poisoning she contracted as a child.
“Ashley was overly trusting almost naive in a way,” Penny Monteleone, Ashley’s aunt, said Tuesday. “But by the same token she was observant and extremely organized.”
Court documents indicate the men offered conflicting stories while implicating each other as having stabbed Kline before dousing her with gasoline and lighting her on fire while she was still alive on Dec. 30 in Clay Township.
•Though both men list residences in Berks County, they grew up in the Cocalcio area and were known by East Cocalico Police and District Justice Nancy Hamill.
Schannauer was removed from regular classes at Cocalico High School in 2010 following incidents of a harassment charge and a tobacco violation at the school.
Court records indicate, Lynch and Schannauer were arrested together Sept. 15, 2012 in Berks County on receiving stolen property and use-possession of drug paraphernalia charges.
Schannauer in February was accepted in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, ARD, program on the arrest with Lynch on drug charges.
Schannauer gradated in December 2011 from an alternative school through the Cocalico Academy.
The school was the earlier version of Cocalico Connections online cyber program. At that time the academy was only an in-school, on-site option using online programming, according to Bruce Sensenig, Cocalico School superintendent.
Lynch, who last attended Cocalico High School on Oct. 28, 2008 as a ninth-grade student, was assigned to the Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit Alternative School but ended up in prison less than a year later.
Records indicated he was sentenced to prison again after East Cocalico Police arrested him in August of 2011, on a warrant for robbery, theft, simple assault and criminal mischief.
The incident stemmed from an encounter where Lynch punched a 16-year-old boy, took his bike and damaged it around the corner from his home on the first block of Chestnut Street in Adamstown.
A woman at Adamstown Transfer Company on Sunday said people there were familiar with the group that Lynch hung out with.
She noted that surveillance video given to police showed a teen entering a back door and stole a purse from the bar.
“Everyone believed it was part of that crew that stole the purse,” the woman said.
Court records state Schannauer made a bizarre statement to investigators that he and Lynch had conspired to “scare” Kline by taking her to a remote area, pouring gasoline on her, “gripping her,” and “roughing her up.”
Ashley’s cousin Gianna Weller said reports are true that Schannauer’s family was close to theirs.
“But I don’t think Ashley was that close (to Ryan Schannauer),” Weller said. “She was in a committed relationship for five years and I don’t think she had even seen him in about a year before that night.”
That’s what makes the “horrific crime so unfathomable,” she said.
“It’s a hate crime,” Weller said. “What reason would anyone have to ‘scare’ Ashley other than because she had an impairment.”
Court records say Lynch claims to have been driving when Schannauer stabbed her. He said Schannauer and Kline got into a physical confrontation in the back seat after have sex.
Schannauer stated that he was driving and that Lynch stabbed Kline once she was in the vehicle.
The men had discussed various locations to take Kline prior to picking her up under the pretense of going to a movie, according to police.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said the pair also admitted to returning to burn the body again Jan. 8, at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area,.
Only the use of dental records made it possible to identify Kline’s body found near Laurel Drive, just west of Woodcock Drive.
Lynch and Schannauer gave conflicting accounts of the murder. While both claim it wasn’t premeditated, Stedman said the men brought gasoline and a knife in Schannauer’s white 1990 Buick Century used to transport Kline’s body to Middle Creek.
State police Capt. Dante Orlandi said it appeared that Kline fought as she was forced into the woods at a wildlife preserve
Chief David Steffen of Northern Lancaster Regional Police, which assisted in the investigation, spoke at a press conference last week with Stedman and Orlandi.
“Our goal is justice and to speak for the victim and to assure a successful prosecution,” Steffen said.
A preliminary hearing for the men is scheduled before Justice Tony S. Russell in Ephrata on Friday morning.