HARRISBURG, Pa. – A state employee and his girlfriend had been drinking in the hours before he allegedly dropped her from a 23rd-story apartment window, killing her, police said Monday.
Kevin Eckenrode told police the couple was horsing around when he dangled her out the apartment window Saturday night and lost his grip on her arms, Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed said.
The 25-year-old "was distraught and extremely inebriated" when authorities arrived at the building, Harrisburg police spokesman Randy King said.
His girlfriend, 23-year-old Rachel M. Kozlusky, dressed only in underwear and a sweater, fell through a skylight on the portico to the pavement in front of the building. She died of massive head and internal injuries.
Eckenrode was charged with homicide and possession of drug paraphernalia and held in the Dauphin County Prison without bail.
His lawyer, William Costopoulos, called the death "truly a tragic case" and said he would seek bail.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico Jr. said authorities were investigating whether the death was an accident.
"Obviously it's an unusual scenario," Marsico said. "Even if his version is true, to be holding someone out on a 23rd-story window is beyond ridiculous. It's as reckless an act as I can imagine, if not malicious."
Eckenrode had moved from Scranton about a month ago to the apartment in the 25-story Pennsylvania Place building, one of the tallest buildings in Harrisburg, the district attorney said.
He worked as a press aide for state gambling board spokesman Nick Hays, who said Monday that Eckenrode had been suspended without pay. Eckenrode is at least the third board employee to face criminal charges in the past seven months: A board lawyer was charged with simple assault and public intoxication after a bar fight, and another staff member pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.
The gambling board issued a statement saying Eckenrode's hiring was contingent on a background check that had not been completed at the time of his arrest.
Kozlusky's uncle, Gary Kozlusky, said the family was "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of their daughter." She had graduated in 2005 from Marywood University in Scranton with a communications degree. King said the young woman and Eckenrode had been dating for at least a year.