Prosecutors: 2 Men Confess To Killing Violinist

Federal prosecutors say two suspects have confessed to last week's killing of a violinist with the Chautauqua Institution's symphony orchestra.

It was just before 7:00 last Wednesday morning when Jonathan Conklin and Charles Sanford, two homeless men from Erie, Pennsylvania, were outside of Mary Whitaker's summer home in the Chautauqua County town of Westfield.

According to the criminal complaint the two men had concocted a plan to rob the home's owner. Why?

"Conklin told Sanford he wanted to live like a rock star."

Under the plan, Sanford would knock on the door of a home picked at random and tell the homeowner he had run out of gas and needed to borrow a phone.

Prosecutors say when Whitaker answered her door and gave Sanford her phone, "Conklin emerged armed with a rifle and told the female 'this is a robbery. Don't make it any worse than it is.' In response, the victim screamed."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Lynch: "It's alleged that Mr. Conklin shot Miss Whitaker in the torso, later on after a struggle, she was shot again in the leg and then subsequently stabbed in the neck, according to the complaint by Mr. Sanford. I said it today in court, that Mr. Sanford stabbed her after she was gurgling on her own blood."

According to the complaint, the two men then left Whitaker to die and fled to Erie taking her phone, car, some credit cards and her checkbook.

Conklin and Sanford were tracked down based on their alleged use of Whitaker's cell phone and credit cards.

In court on Thursday they were denied bail and remain in federal custody.

The pair are facing charges of stealing weapons, crossing state lines, and car jacking.

They're also expected to be indicted at some point in Chautauqua County on second degree murder charges, which carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.


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