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Man in wife's Christmas Eve ax murder killed self, coroner says

A Pennsylvania man accused of killing his wife with an ax on Christmas Eve was pronounced dead after a suicide attempt left him brain-dead, authorities said.

Dustin Lee Klopp, 36, was rushed to a hospital Wednesday night after hanging himself in his county prison cell, according to the Lancaster County coroner's office.

Klopp was declared brain-dead because of lack of oxygen to the brain, said Dr. Stephen Diamantoni, the county coroner. Hospital officials said Klopp was pronounced dead Friday.

Diamantoni told LNP newspapers that said no autopsy will be done. He ruled the death a suicide.

Klopp was charged with criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse and evidence-tampering in the Dec. 24 death of Stephanie Kilhefner, 34, in their Paradise Township home. Police said he cut her throat with a knife and repeatedly hit her in the head with an ax, then put her body in a bag in a shed and tried to clean up the blood.

Authorities said Klopp called state police on Christmas Day, told them about the body and arrived at the state police barracks in Lancaster about an hour later.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said the couple's children, ages 2 and 5, did not witness the slaying.