It was around 5:20PM on the 31st of May, 2018, when police in Wyalusing Township, Pennsylvania, received a disturbing report. A United Parcel Service driver had spotted what appeared to be a body by Wyalusing Creek. He flagged down a passing motorist and they went to investigate. As they got closer, they discovered the body of a woman, lifeless in the creek. They pulled the woman’s body from the water and immediately called police.
Police arrived at the scene shortly thereafter. Here, they located the body alongside a large piece of tarp, chapstick and the woman’s shoe. The area where she was found was just under the Route 706 bridge.1
As the media congregated in the area, they spoke with a local man, 38-year-old Matthew Haverly, who lived across the street from where the body had been found.
He told Newswatch 16’s Kristina Papa that he knew that a body had been found but had no idea what was going on. “I’m like, ‘What they hell is going on?’ And now I realize that’s what they were actually doing. I had no clue. It’s sad to say that that’s someone’s either daughter, mother or whatever,” he said.
Haverly went on to make some speculations about the victim. He suggested that it was somebody from out of town, stating: “I think it was some kind of a hit, and something happened. Something went bad, and this is like a rural area, so they just wanted to plant the body somewhere else besides wherever the hell they were from.”2
He continued, telling the reporter that the area where the body had been found would be a place somebody from the city would use to hide a body. As he said “because most likely it wouldn’t be found.”
Haverly then spoke about the reaction he thought his mother would have when she discovered that a body had been found so close to where they lived, telling the reporter: “I’m guessing my mother, she would be concerned. Probably a lot of the other neighbours would be concerned.”
Later that afternoon, the deceased woman was identified as 60-year-old Patricia Haverly. She was the mother of the man who had been interviewed just hours earlier by Newswatch 16.
The autopsy would determine that Patricia had sustained trauma to the top and right side of her head. There were also two recent bruises to the outer bicep of each arm. This wound was consistent with being grabbed by somebody. Patricia had also sustained defensive wounds to her arms and elbow.3
According to the pathologist, Patricia’s cause of death was head trauma in the presence of heart disease. He said: “Basically, the trauma was aggravated by the disease. If not for the presence of heart disease, the head trauma that she received likely would not have resulted in her death.”4
Her death was ruled a homicide and within hours, her own son was arrested and charged with her murder and abusing her corpse. He had been interviewed by investigators and told them that he had woken up that morning and found that his mother was missing. He said that he couldn’t find her cell phone, either.
He went on to tell investigators that he and his mother had a very tumultuous relationship and detailed the events leading up to her disappearance. He said that he had left the home they shared at 75 Water Street to run some errands. He claimed that when he returned, he and his mother began to argue.
According to Haverly, Patricia often taunted him and followed him around the house. He claimed that she did this on the day in question. He told investigators that he responded by grabbing his mother by the arms to push her away from him. He said that this was all he could remember because he blacked out. He said that he was an alcoholic and had proceeded to “pound the booze.” He further said that he may have hit his mother in the head when he was blocking punches from her.5
Following his interview with investigators, they obtained a search warrant for the home Haverly and his mother shared. Inside, they found a wheelbarrow and a black tarp which was consistent with the black tarp found at the crime scene. They also discovered several damaged doors which were consistent with a fight taking place.
Haverly appeared in court where it was determined that there was enough evidence against him to proceed the case into the Bradford County Court of Common Pleas. He would be formally charged with a first-degree felony count of criminal homicide and a second-degree misdemeanour count of abuse of a corpse. He would plead not guilty to the charges.
However, in March the following year, Haverly would plead no contest to manslaughter. This meant that he did not admit guilty but agreed to be sentenced as if he did.6 He would be sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison to 14 years in prison.
Bradford County District Attorney Dan Barrett would note that Haverly had a 15 year history with alcohol abuse and had attempted several times to quit. If granted parole, he would be under parole supervision for 14 years and this could be revoked if there was evidence that he had been using alcohol.7
- ABC – 16 WNEP, 1 June, 2018 – “Man Charged with Homicide”
- ABC – 16 WNEP, 2 June, 2018 – “Son Arrested After Mother’s Body Discovered in Creek”
- The Daily Review, 5 June, 2018 – “Details Leading to Arrest of Haverly Released”
- The Morning Times, 17 November, 2018 – “Cause of Death”
- The Daily Review, 20 June, 2018 – “Haverly Case Moves to Court of Common Pleas”
- ABC – 16 WNEP, 1 March, 2019 – “Bradford County Man Accused of Killing Mother Pleads No Contest”
- The Daily Review, 9 May, 2019 – “Haverly Sentenced to 14 Years for Death of Mother”