GREENSBURG, Pa. - Jennifer Daugherty's mom and stepdad didn't press for details when she mentioned she had made some new friends. The 30-year-old had the mental abilities of an adolescent but wasn't the kind to get in trouble, and she was even thinking about getting her own place soon. Police found her body Friday stuffed into a garbage can in a school parking lot; they say she had been forced to consume detergent and urine — and to write a fake suicide note — before she was fatally stabbed by attackers who also shaved her head and painted her face with nail polish. Six suspects have been charged, including her new "friends."
"She was exploited, and her kindness and her handicap made her very vulnerable," Daugherty's sister, Joy Burkholder, said. "She trusted everybody; she believed everyone was good, and no one would hurt her."
Daugherty's stepfather said she often traveled on her own by bus from her home in Mount Pleasant to Greensburg, about 10 miles away, for dental or counseling appointments. After she hopped onto a bus Monday, she called her folks later in the day seeking permission to spend the night at "Peggy's" house.
It was the last time she would talk to them.
Daugherty went willingly went to the apartment where she was killed about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, according to police, who wouldn't discuss a motive or details on how the visit turned deadly.
Wrong place at wrong time?
Police say she was beaten with a towel rack, vacuum cleaner hose and a crutch, and her body bound with Christmas decorations, an affidavit said. Police said she was fed vegetable oil, medications and spices in addition to soap and urine.
She was stabbed multiple times with an unknown weapon in the neck, chest and head, Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth Bacha said. Authorities said they found the victim's belongings in the building's attic, as well as items that had been used to clean up blood.
"She was at the wrong place, at the wrong time, stumbled into a bad situation," said Greensburg Police Chief Walter Lyons.