Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Accused tells police he 'messed up'

Kevin Cleeves admitted to police that he had 'messed up' (AP/Pennsylvania State Police)

Hours after US authorities began investigating the shooting deaths of three people in a home, the man later charged in the case admitted to police that he had "messed up".

The suspect, Kevin Cleeves of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, said that in retrospect he never should have gone to the home of his estranged wife's boyfriend on Friday night, even if he was concerned about the welfare of his four-year-old daughter.

Because there, authorities allege, he quarrelled with his wife and her boyfriend in front of the girl and was told to leave but instead opened fire, shooting to death the two adults as well as the man's mother.

He then fled with the girl 250 miles to neighbouring Ohio, where he was arrested and his daughter was recovered safely, police said.

Cleeves was charged with three counts of criminal homicide in the deaths of 25-year-old Brandi Cleeves, 28-year-old Vincent Santucci, and 55-year-old Rosemary Holma and is awaiting an extradition hearing. Court records listed no lawyer for him. Detectives in Ohio declined to say where his daughter, Leia, was.

Cleeves, 35, was headed for Michigan in the hopes of getting the girl to his aunt's house, according to an affidavit filed in court in Pennsylvania.

He called his aunt about an hour after the deaths, and he was "drinking and mad", she told police. He admitted to her that he was behind the shootings and she called police.

Cleeves got as far as Austintown, Ohio, just over the Pennsylvania state line, where he was arrested in a hotel car park.

Mr Santucci's father, Vincent L Santucci Sr, told The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Maryland, that his son, a chef, had only known Brandi Cleeves for little more than a month but they had a positive energy between them.

"He was a kind person, loving son and brother," he said. Mr Santucci Sr said his former wife was a wonderful mother who had put herself through nursing school and found her calling as a nurse. "We think she died running to help her son," he said.

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