HARRISBURG, Pa. – A prison guard accused of shooting a lawyer to death at a gun range told police he found the man dead and stole his rifle so it could be used by an extremist group bent on overthrowing the U.S. government, court records show.
Camp Hill State Prison guard Raymond Franklin Peake III wouldn't name the group but said a fellow guard accused of helping him steal attorney Todd Getgen's AR-15 also was a member, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
"Peake told (investigators) that he would kill to defend his country and he was stealing weapons to defend his country," wrote North Middleton Township police Detective Timothy Lively.
Lively said Monday that Peake, in speaking with detectives, denied killing Getgen, who was 42. Lively said he didn't know the identity of the anti-government group involved but he believed the gun theft was the motive for the killing.
Peake, 64, was charged Saturday with homicide, robbery and other offenses following the death at a gun range near Carlisle, a borough of about 18,000 residents in south-central Pennsylvania. The other guard, Thomas Franklin Tuso, 34, faces charges that include theft and conspiracy.
Peake, of Mechanicsburg, was being held without bond. Tuso, of Duncannon, was released after posting bond. Court officials said neither had an attorney on file, and neither had a listed home telephone number.
Both were suspended without pay on Friday, a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman said.
Peake's arrest affidavit said a witness who was at the state-owned firing range a day before Getgen was shot recalled seeing there a man who was driving a vehicle with a Pennsylvania license plate that said "combat wounded," apparently one of the military plates for Purple Heart recipients that say "Combat Wounded Veteran" on the bottom. A computer search indicated the closest such plate was registered to Peake.
"I would say that was very critical" to solving the case, Lively said.
Police said that a week after the July 21 killing, they secretly followed Peake as he bought a 14-gun safe from a sporting goods store and drove it to a self-storage facility. They say they also followed him to Tuso's rented apartment, where he walked in with what appeared to be an empty large bag that seemed full when he walked out.
After a search of the storage unit, police said they recovered Getgen's gun along with a .308-caliber Remington 700 that had been stolen from another man at the range on May 21. The third gun they recovered had been purchased by Peake.
Peake told detectives that he took Getgen's gun to Tuso's home for storage and that he told Tuso it belonged to a man killed at the range, the affidavit said.
The arrest affidavit attached to the criminal complaint against Tuso said he told detectives he had no knowledge of the guns.
Three search warrants were executed as part of the investigation, but Lively said they were sealed for 60 days by a judge.