Police: Homicide suspect taunted victims in deadly home invasion
A Penn Hills man spent hours taunting the victims of his alleged home invasion, telling one of them he was a Navy Seal and he could “do whatever he wanted” to her, according to the criminal complaint.
Police on Tuesday filed one count of homicide against Charles Pershing, 36, who is charged in the home invasion-turned-killing.
Loxley Johns, 65, and an unnamed 52-year-old woman were tied up and robbed inside their Runnete Street home early on Sept. 3. Johns later died from his injuries.
The woman told police she’d been sleeping when she heard someone coming and going from her daughter’s bedroom, according to the criminal complaint. She walked to the hallway and found a man she said she recognized from the neighborhood.
She struck him with a flat iron, but the man, later identified as Pershing, grabbed her in a choke hold, got her to the ground, blindfolded her and bond her hands with zip ties, police wrote in the complaint.
Pershing told the woman he could kill her. He said he was a Navy Seal, and he could do what he wanted to her, according to the complaint. He also asked “where the stuff was that was owed to him.”
When Pershing left three hours later, he told the woman not to call police, otherwise he or someone from his crew would “cut (her) tongue out and feed it to (her) daughter,” according to the complaint.
The woman got free and found Johns lying unresponsive on the living room floor, bound and naked from the waist down, police said. He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian in critical condition. The woman said she’d seen Pershing in the neighborhood before, as recently as a few days prior.
Police arrested Pershing on an outstanding warrant for unpaid child support Sept. 4. He was carrying a red duffle bag when he was arrested and was injured.
Pershing agreed to talk to detectives, according to the complaint. He said he’d found the red duffle bag on the side of the road and took it home. A search of his home turned up cell phones and other items taken from the Runnette Street home, police said, as well as zip ties. Inside the red bag were various items taken from the home.
As for his injuries, Pershing told police that he’d been in a fight in Downtown Pittsburgh, though he could not say where the fight happened, according to police. Confronted with evidence of the zip ties and stolen items in his home, Pershing asked for an attorney.
Pershing was initially charged with two counts each of aggravated assault, robbery, reckless endangerment, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint, and one count each of burglary, attempted homicide, criminal trespass, theft, receiving stolen property, terroristic threats and harassment.
On Wednesday, Johns died from his injuries, which included blunt force trauma to his head, authorities said, leading to the homicide charge against Pershing.
Pershing remains in the Allegheny County Jail. A preliminary hearing has not yet been scheduled for the latest charges.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.