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Local News

August 3, 2011

Abbott still awaiting extradition to Pa. for deaths

SLIPPERY ROCK — A New Jersey man accused of killing his father and stepmother and burning their bodies at their Slippery Rock-area home is still awaiting extradition.

On July 21, Colin Abbott, 40, waived his right to an extradition hearing in the Morris County Courthouse, Morristown, N.J.

Abbott, who resides in Randolph, N.J., has been charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his father, Kenneth Abbott, 65, and stepmother, Celeste Abbott, 55.

According to a story in the Star Ledger--a newspaper that covers the town in which Abbott resides--Neill Hamilton, public defender, represented Abbott at a hearing July 21 before Superior Court Judge David Ironson. The public defender told the press on that day that his client said there would be no purpose in contesting extradition and that he wants to come to Pennsylvania to face the charges.

Tuesday, Abbott was still in the Morris County Correctional Facility, according to Corp. Scott Theriault, a correctional officer there.

Corp. Michael Mackey, a public relations officer with Pennsylvania State Police in Butler, said that state police have not yet finalized plans for bringing Abbott back to Pennsylvania.

Abbott is to be returned to Pennsylvania within 10 days of the hearing, or by Aug. 2.

According to an affidavit from Pennsylvania State Police, sometime between June 5 and 7, the Abbotts were killed at their residence. State police from Butler discovered what appeared to be charred human bones and a partial skull near two burn barrels and in one of the ponds on the Abbotts’ property in Brady Township, Butler County. State police called in a forensic anthropology team from Mercyhurst College, Erie, to collect and inventory the remains. A call to the Butler County coroner’s office inquiring whether the remains have been positively identified was not immediately returned on Tuesday.

Information in the affidavit submitted to District Court in Slippery Rock includes the story Abbott allegedly conveyed to relatives about their deaths.

According to the affidavit, Abbott had contacted relatives on June 11 and told them his father and stepmother were killed in a fiery crash. When Mrs. Abbott’s daughter contacted New Jersey State Police to inquire about the details of the accident, she was informed that there was no such accident found in police records. New Jersey State Police then contacted Pennsylvania State Police to conduct a welfare visit at the Abbotts’ residence. That is when the bodies were found.

According to Promise Gavel, a New Jersey criminal database, Abbott has a criminal record dating back to 1993.

In 1993, he was charged with two burglaries in Sussex County, which is adjacent to Morris County, N.J., where he lives. He pleaded guilty to both of them and was sentenced to three years’ probation.

In 1996, Abbott was charged with attempted murder for allegedly running over a man with his truck in a bar fight at the Tidal Wave in Sussex County. The grand jury returned a “no bill,” meaning it failed to indict him, according to the Sussex County prosecutor’s office.

On July 2, 1999, he was arrested for resisting arrest following an altercation in which he hit a police officer in Sussex County. He pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to two years’ probation, community service and incarceration in county jail for at least a year as a condition of his probation.

On other occasions, according to New Jersey court records, Abbott was charged with contempt and violating a court order with charges being downgraded and transferred to family court. Other charges included harassment, assault and forgery, with all charges downgraded and transferred to municipal court, reports state.

When Abbott is returned to Pennsylvania, he will be arraigned in district court in Butler County, a spokesperson from the Slippery Rock District Court office said on Tuesday.

The local community has been stunned by the couple’s deaths.

Mike Bencic, owner of the Slippery Rock Sliders, and his wife Laura had become personal friends of the Abbotts prior to Ken Abbott becoming a partial owner of the team.

Bencic met Ken in 2010, the second season for the local baseball team.

“I had begun offering shares of the team to local businessmen in Slippery Rock,” Bencic said. Someone had suggested that he offer shares to Ken, but had put it off for about 10 months. When Bencic finally considered Ken’s offer, he sold him four shares of the team.

“When he came on board with the team, he took it very seriously and brought his expertise to our organization,” Bencic said. Ken attended regular monthly meetings.

“His wife came to the games and she thought Ken would really enjoy them.”

Ken Abbott had been an executive with Warner-Lambert, a pharmaceutical company, Bencic said. According to news stories from New Jersey, Warner-Lambert was purchased by Pfizer, also a pharmaceutical company, in 2000.

Bencic and his wife saw and talked to Celeste Abbott at the Sliders game on June 2. She told them that her husband and his son had gone to a car show.

“Ken was an avid car collector,” Bencic said, noting that Ken owned an extensive car collection. He had also recently bought a few cars, locally. “The next game was on June 4 and they weren’t there.”

About June 5, a mutual friend of Ken Abbott’s and Bencic’s called Bencic to see if he had heard from the Abbotts, and mentioned that he had heard that they had been in an accident.

Bencic was shocked at the news.

“We decided not to announce their deaths at the ball park until we had more information,” Bencic said.

The Bencics and other friends and family of the Abbotts have put together a car cruise and memorial tribute to the couple on Aug. 6. Mrs. Bencic has received word that Mrs. Abbott’s sister, Barbara Hayes, is planning a memorial Mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Slippery Rock, on the same day.

Story was published July 27, 2011.

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