Police are seen Tuesday at the Conewago Township home of 64-year-old Christiana Leonard, who had been killed sometime overnight.
Police are seen Tuesday at the Conewago Township home of 64-year-old Christiana Leonard, who had been killed sometime overnight. (THE EVENING SUN - SHANE DUNLAP)

The 64-year-old Conewago Township woman found dead Tuesday morning inside her Third Street home reportedly sustained severe blunt-impact injuries to her face and head during an apparent struggle with her killer.

It was called a "horrific crime" by Adams County District Attorney Shawn Wagner.

The body of Christiana Leonard was found by a family member in the living room of her 725 Third St. residence among objects including a broken vase, a broken chair and broken and overturned table, according to court documents.

Police say they also found a wooden rolling pin with blood on it. Traces of blood were throughout the house and Leonard was found with a fingernail partially torn, apparently during a struggle, the documents state.

Jonathan Leonard, charged in Tuesday’s killing
Jonathan Leonard, charged in Tuesday's killing (THE EVENING SUN -- SUBMITTED)

Within hours of police arriving at the scene, Leonard's nephew, 25-year-old Jonathan Edward Leonard, was in police custody. And police say Jonathan Leonard, 660 Cricket Lane in McSherrystown, is responsible for killing his aunt, then leaving the scene in her 1992 Buick sedan.

He is charged with single counts of criminal homicide, robbery and theft and is jailed at Adams County prison without bail.

Investigators say they have not yet determined a motive in the killing.

Police were alerted early on in their investigation about Jonathan Leonard's possible involvement, according to court documents. And the Leonard family played an important role as the investigation proceeded, according to Sgt. Jonathan Mays of the Pennsylvania State Police.

"Without them, we certainly wouldn't have arrived at this in a timely fashion," Mays said.

Christiana's body was discovered at her home by her brother James Leonard, who went to check on her when she did not show up to her job at CAM Innovation in Hanover. James Leonard told police Jonathan Leonard had unlawfully entered the Third Street residence previously, charging documents state.

In 2004, Jonathan Leonard crawled through a kitchen window to unlawfully enter the house, according to court documents. He was discovered hiding in the attic with a glass pipe with marijuana residue.

Soon after police found the body of Christiana Leonard, at 9:04 a.m., a bulletin was put out for her stolen Buick.

At 10:43, police located the vehicle parked in the lot outside the Franklin House Tavern in Hanover, according to the documents. While some officers staked out the vehicle, others tracked down surveillance footage from the lot that showed Christiana Leonard's Buick pulling in at about 7:04 a.m.

According to documents, the video shows a man wearing blue jeans, a blue jacket and white shoes get out of the car and walk with a visible limp along the railroad tracks. At an alley, the man - who is carrying a white bag in each hand - turns left then goes around a corner of a garage to the rear of 221 High St.

Fewer than three hours later, at about 1:55 p.m., two detectives - Francis Donnelly of the Adams County District Attorney's office and William Hartlaub of the Conewago Township Police - were at the front door of the second-story residence at 221 High St. rear, the documents indicate.

The door was answered by Brittany Kurtz, and when the detectives asked for Jonathan Leonard, Kurtz told them he was inside and she'd get him, court documents state.

Leonard stepped outside onto a small deck and agreed to speak with the investigators, the documents state.

As he talked, the detectives could see what appeared to be blood on his jeans and shoes, the documents state. Several cuts and abrasions also could be seen on him, according to the documents.

Leonard told police he had been at the McSherrystown Police Department for questioning on a series of thefts Monday until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., and that he walked from the station to the High Street residence, arriving at about 8 p.m. and sleeping on the couch all night. He said he hadn't driven any vehicle in a long time, and denied knowing any relatives who owned a Buick, or red or dark red vehicle, documents state.

Police then went inside the residence and told Kurtz a search warrant would be executed there, at which time she became visibly upset and stated that Leonard had only been at the residence since 7 a.m., court documents state. Kurtz also told police Leonard brought with him only two white plastic bags, which were behind a chair inside the residence and resembled the bags carried by the man on the surveillance video. 

Leonard, who also was wearing clothing similar to the man in the video, was detained by police for preservation of evidence. Police said as he was escorted downstairs to a police vehicle, he walked with a visible limp consistent with the man on the video.

Officer Chad Sprenkle of the McSherrystown Police told investigators that he didn't notice Leonard walking with a limp when he interviewed Leonard as part of an unrelated investigation on Monday at about 6:30 p.m., according to the documents.

Sprenkle questioned Leonard as part of an investigation into a series of thefts in the McSherrystown area. Leonard is a suspect in those thefts and the investigation is ongoing, according to McSherrystown police.

Following Leonard's arrest, police obtained a search warrant to perform forensics tests that included DNA tests and tests for the presence of blood on Leonard's clothing. What appeared to be a large amount of blood on the side and sole of Leonard's shoe was positively identified as blood, court documents state.

The tread pattern on Leonard's shoe also was determined to be similar to a sneaker impression police discovered in a hallway at the Third Street home, court documents state.

There was no mention in court documents of Leonard making any statement to police following his arrest.

A news conference on Leonard's arrest was held Wednesday at the state police barracks in Gettysburg. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 18, but officials say that date might change.