A Westmoreland County man accused of hindering officials from reaching a dying woman now faces much more serious charges.
State police on Tuesday charged Brandon Crowe, of Arnold, with a second-degree felony count of aiding suicide, accusing him of helping Julie Madeley to take a lethal dose of an antipsychotic medication, Seroquel, in late March in West Wheatfield Township.
Investigators also charged that Crowe stole Madeley’s property, including jewelry from her body and valuables from her pockets, while her life was slipping away.
Prosecutors exchanged the criminal charges Tuesday when Crowe appeared for a scheduled preliminary hearing in the Clymer district court. Judge George Thachik boosted Crowe’s required bond from $50,000 to $75,000 and returned him to Indiana County Jail to await a preliminary hearing on July 2.
In a much more detailed affidavit than the one police originally filed days after Madeley died, investigators mapped out the developments in the days leading up to her death.
Madeley, 39, and Crowe, 31, met online early in March, and she allowed him to move into the house where she lived with Chris Dobies on March 16.
According to the complaint, their relationship deteriorated and Madeley told Crowe on March 25 to move out; in response, Crowe cut his arms in a suicide attempt and refused to leave the house.
The next day, Dobies moved from the house after an argument with Crowe, according to police, and encouraged Madeley to get state police to help evict Crowe.
The next day, March 27, state police visited Madeley’s home three times, according to the complaint.
At 1 a.m., troopers answered Crowe’s call of complaint about Dobies, and found Madeley “under the influence,” according to court papers. But police left after Madeley told them she was OK, and that she had taken her prescribed dose of Seroquel for the evening.
Later in the afternoon, Madeley’s daughter, Angel Fenn, asked police to accompany her to Madeley’s residence and to check on her welfare.
According to the criminal complaint, Fenn had been alerted by a friend of Madeley’s that Crowe repeatedly answered Madeley’s phone and told the friend that Madeley was unavailable, and to call back later.
When Fenn and police reached the house, they found Crowe loading Madeley’s valuables and other possessions into Madeley’s car. Crowe denied over and over that Madeley was in the house, but after 10 to 15 minutes of questioning, he admitted to troopers that Madeley was inside and had trouble breathing, according to charging documents.
State Trooper Richard Englert, Fenn and two neighbors, Michelle Labelle and Doug Taylor, entered the house and found Madeley lying unconscious on the floor with dried vomit on her face.
Crowe claimed that he had given Madeley a drink because she was choking on pills, and believed she was breathing when he left her alone in the house.
Citizens’ Ambulance Service paramedics took Madeley to Indiana Regional Medical Center, and Crowe was ordered to leave the property, according to police.
A short time later, police were called back when Crowe was discovered again trying to get into Madeley’s car. In a confrontation, Crowe threatened to harm police and the neighbors and their families, court papers show.
Police then searched Crowe, found Madeley’s jewelry and phone in his pockets, and arrested him.
Meanwhile, Madeley was transferred that night from IRMC to UMPC-Montefiore Hospital in Pittsburgh, where she died at 4:30 a.m. March 28, police reported. According to court papers, an autopsy performed later that day showed Madeley had 10,000 nanograms of Seroquel per milliliter of blood in her system — any more than 3,000 ng/ml is considered a lethal dose — and 103 ng/ml of Xanax in her system when she died.
Armed with a search warrant, police collected evidence from Madeley’s home including a butter knife found in the kitchen with white powder on the blade, confirmed by lab tests to be Seroquel.
In an interview that day at the county jail, investigators reported, Crowe told police Madeley was intent on committing suicide and began taking pills. He said he gave her water to help wash the pills down — although he did not intend for her to die — then she fell asleep and didn’t wake up.
Crowe also admitted that he planned to drive Madeley’s car, loaded with her belongings, to New Kensington or Pittsburgh to sell her stuff, then to phone 911 to send help for Madeley.
According to the criminal complaint, Chris Dobies told police on the evening of March 28 that he never heard Madeley talk about wanting to commit suicide while he was at the house, and said he never knew her to crush her medicine for consumption.
Crowe’s father, William Crowe, told investigators the following day that his son “was known to crush pills, find vulnerable women, get close to them, and used them for what he wanted.” Given the scenario of Madeley’s death, the elder Crowe told police “that he would not be surprised based upon his drug history, behavior history and his relationships with women.”
At Thachik’s court Tuesday, District Attorney Patrick Dougherty withdrew the original nine-count complaint against Crowe, and police filed nine new charges against him: aiding suicide, making terroristic threats, obstructing administration of law, obstructing emergency services, defiant trespass, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct and two counts of attempted theft.
Crowe was represented by attorney Aaron Ludwig of the Indiana County public defender’s office at his court appearance.