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Coroner rules death of Carrie Smith, of Wilson, a homicide

Published On: Oct 12 2012 02:51:23 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 12 2012 10:38:17 PM EDT

Armed robbery case turns into homicide investigation


The death of a 76-year-old woman who was robbed and assaulted inside her home in March has been ruled a homicide, the Northampton County coroner announced Friday.

Carrie Smith's death was caused by exacerbation of congestive heart failure and acute myocardial infarction that she suffered during the ordeal, the coroner said.

Smith was eventually able to call police before she suffered a heart attack following the ordeal inside her home in the 2400 block of Hillside Avenue, officials said.


Smith's granddaughter, Rebecca Johnson, orchestrated the robbery, said police, adding that $40,000 worth of cash and jewelry were taken from the home.

Johnson, 28, of Wilson, was arrested June 21 after leading police on a chase with her 9-year-old son in the car, said police, who added that Johnson's alleged accomplice, David Bechtold, was arrested the next day.

Both Johnson and Bechtold, now 18, were committed to the Northampton County Prison on a number of charges, including robbery, burglary, aggravated assault and theft. Johnson remains locked up on $750,000 bail; Bechtold is being held on $500,000 bail.

Police said they are still seeking a third person, Rogel Suero, of Allentown, on the same charges.

Bechtold, then 17, and Suero woke Smith up in the middle of the night, held a gun to her head and forced her to open her safe, investigators said.

A fourth person is still being investigated, police said.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli told 69 News he is still reviewing the case to determine whether homicide charges should be filed.