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Arrest made in 2002 killing of Hope Babel in Shoemakersville

By 69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: May 14 2013 09:36:15 AM CDT
Updated On: May 14 2013 05:44:49 PM CDT

A homicide case grown cold over the last 11 years heated up Tuesday with the arrest of a suspect.

SHOEMAKERSVILLE, Pa. -

A homicide case grown cold over the last 11 years heated up Tuesday with the arrest of a suspect and his mother.

Ryan Stufflet was arrested Tuesday morning on homicide and arson charges in the killing of Hope Babel in Shoemakersville, Berks Co.

Babel, 47, was found dead inside her burning apartment at 730 Main St. on Sept. 6, 2002. An autopsy determined she died of smoke inhalation, but it also revealed that she suffered injuries to her head and neck that were consistent with partial strangulation, state police said.

"Her injuries were bad, although they wouldn't have been fatal to her, Cpl. William Moyer, now retired from the Pa. State Police, told 69 News during an interview for a follow-up story in 2006.

Babel's killing was the first homicide in the borough's history. It was initially investigated by Shoemakersville police, but the department disbanded in 2005 and the case grew cold.

69 News twice featured the homicide as a Crime Alert Berks County cold case feature, with the more recent story airing in 2006 when a new team of state police investigators took over the case. They said they re-examined evidence and interviewed some 250 people about the homicide.

"Everyone was very cooperative in the investigation except for one person, and we wonder why," said Moyer.

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Stufflet, who was 17-years-old at the time of the homicide, has told investigators he doesn't remember anything that happened in 2002, including the night of the homicide, because of injuries he suffered in car accidents in 2002, 2004 and 2005. 

Babel's youngest son, Isaiah Babel, who was also 17-years-old at the time his mother was killed, told investigators that he, his mom and Stufflet "hung out" in the Babel apartment on the night of the homicide, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, according to court documents.

At some point, Isaiah Babel and Stufflet left and walked toward a neighbor's house two blocks away, but about half-way there, Stufflet said he had to leave and turned around, police said.

Isaiah Babel later walked back to his home for a refill of his drink and told his neighbors when he returned that Stufflet was there, police said. Isaiah Babel was passed out at his neighbors' home when firefighters responded to his burning apartment, according to court documents.

Stufflet, now 28, of Tilden Township, is facing charges of homicide; first, second and third degree murder; and arson.

Stufflet's mother, Tina Stufflet, 51, was also arrested in connection with the case. She was charged with perjury for allegedly lying to investigators.