Guilty plea in thefts from home where dead man was found

A Lowell man admitted Friday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to stealing items from a Marietta home that the owner had vacated after the death of her husband there.

Dustin L. McKnight, 28, of 9230 State Route 60, pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of burglary.

McKnight and co-defendant Travis E. Pasco, 25, of 103 Muskingum Drive, were indicted in July on three third-degree felony counts of burglary each for allegedly entering the home on three consecutive days-May 31, June 1 and June 2-and slowly siphoning valuable items from the home.

“Some of these items ended up at an antique store in Marietta,” said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

McKnight and Pasco are believed to have entered by breaking out a basement window and then unlocking a door so they could easily transport items in and out of the home, he added.

Among the stolen items were several pieces of Fenton glass, a shop vacuum, a space heater, hunting knives, a collection of glass angels, clocks, a turkey roaster, oil lamps, and several pieces of memorabilia from Thermo Scientific, where victim Paula Colyer’s late husband had worked.

Colyer was discovered in January to have been living with her husband’s dead body for more than a month. Following a welfare call, the Marietta Police Department found Murray Colyer, 70, dead on the couple’s living room floor.

No foul play is suspected in Murray’s death; however, Paula Colyer could still face charges, said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite on Friday.

Paula had been living with her son when the burglaries occurred, said Schneider.

“The burglaries were therefore not discovered until five days later,” he added.

In exchange for pleading guilty to the first burglary charge, the latter two burglary charges were dismissed. The prosecution also agreed to recommend no more than an 18-month prison sentence at McKnight’s Oct. 2 sentencing on the charge.

“The court has approved the 18-month max pending the receipt of a pre-sentence investigation report,” said Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth.

McKnight, who has no prior prison record, could technically receive a sentence ranging from community control to 36 months in prison.

Pasco has previously spent time in prison, said Schneider. He pleaded guilty Aug. 16 and will be sentenced Sept. 30 on the same charge. According to his agreed disposition, he will likely receive a definite prison sentence of 18 months. However, that could possibly change as Pasco has not show up for any of his pre-sentence appointments, said Schneider.

Pasco and McKnight will be jointly responsible for restitution for the stolen items. The figure is yet to be determined.