WINDBER, Pa. – A Pennsylvania man who mistakenly shot the mother of his intended victim was arrested in Kentucky after calling his own mother to tell her he botched an attempt as a hired hit man, police said Tuesday.
Cortland Michalides, 22, was charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, burglary and other crimes because police contend he broke into Theresa McDonald's home about 2 a.m. Sunday and shot her in the jaw when she confronted him.
McDonald, who is expected to survive, is the mother of the man police believe Michalides meant to shoot, apparently because the man dated a woman Michalides used to date, Windber police Chief Richard Skiles said.
Police caught up with Michalides near Elizabeth, Kentucky, on Sunday after his mother, who lives in Arkansas, called Windber police to ask if he was in trouble. According to a criminal complaint, she called the police after Michalides called to tell her he'd been hired as a hit man, but mistakenly shot his target's mother.
Police used Michalides' cellphone signal to track him down Sunday.
Police don't believe the "hit man" story is true, only that it was an explanation Michalides gave his mother to explain his planned trip to Arkansas, Skiles said. But other details the suspect's mother relayed about the conversation proved he had been at the shooting scene, the chief said.
"Only someone who would have been there would have known that," Skiles said.
Among other things, Michalides' mother told police that her son planned to hide in Arkansas and believed nobody would know who shot the Pennsylvania woman because he wore gloves and a mask and had stopped in Ohio to bury the gun, the complaint said. Windber police found gloves at the shooting scene as well as a shell from a .22-caliber gun, which is the same size gun his mother told police he owned, the complaint said.
Police aren't sure whether Michalides' buried the gun and, if so, where that happened, Skiles said.
Michalides remained jailed Tuesday in Kentucky pending extradition and has no attorney listed in court records. Police hope he'll be returned to Pennsylvania in the next two weeks, Skiles said.