Categories
News

Woman with ties to northern Blair charged in Blandburg murder case

A woman with ties to northern Blair County who allegedly picked up a man in Altoona the night he was murdered has been charged in connection with the case.
The woman, 20-year-old Christina Theresa DeStefano, was arraigned yesterday on a charge of criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, according to the Associated Press.
Her arrest stems from events that unfolded on April 27 when she allegedly picked up 22-year-old James “J” Tucker in Altoona. Tucker’s body was found burning later the same night on Fire Tower Road in Reade Township, Cambria County. When Tucker left Altoona, he had thousands of dollars in cash and crack cocaine in his possession according to court documents. Earlier this week, three men were charged in connection with the murder including a Bellwood man and 25-year-old Torone Dixon.
In the days following the murder, police could not locate DeStefano or Dixon. Authorities received information that the pair may have been at a trailer in Grazierville the day after the murder. The trailer belonged to a family member of DeStefano’s and she and Dixon were due to move in on May 1.
Court documents show DeStefano told her grandmother she was being held against her will in a phone call placed on April 30. Police got permission to enter the trailer and no one was inside. Police obtained search warrants for the trailer and retrieved evidence. They also retrieved evidence from a car found near the trailer they believed Dixon might have been using. Police wanted the evidence in connection with Tucker’s murder and had concern about possible foul play regarding DeStefano.
A missing person’s report was filed regarding DeStefano. Earlier this week, she turned up in Philadelphia when she flagged down a police officer. The AP reported she told the officer she was being held against her will. Authorities said she had not been physically harmed.
The Associated Press reported that court documents show DeStefano drove Tucker to the site where he was killed according to police.
AP reported DeStefano and Tucker smoked marijuana until the alleged triggerman and his two alleged accomplices arrived, police said in court documents. After Tucker was killed, the three men and DeStefano returned to her trailer, police said.
Dixon has been charged with criminal homicide, first and second degree murder, aggravated assault, robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery and other charges.
John E. Mease, 28, of Bellwood, and Damien Marcus Pierce, 31, of Altoona, have been charged with criminal conspiracy to commit homicide, aggravated assault, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Dixon allegedly shot Tucker three times before his body was set ablaze. He was arrested in the Philadelphia area and was transported back to Cambria County where he was arraigned before Cambria County Magisterial District Judge Fred Creany on Monday night. He was lodged in the Cambria County Prison without bail. Mease and Pierce were also held at Cambria County Prison after their arraignments. Bond for each man was set at $150,000. Preliminary hearings for Dixon, Mease and Pierce were scheduled for May 18, but have been continued. No new date has been scheduled according to Magisterial District Judge Charity Nileski’s office.
The AP reported DeStefano was released on bond yesterday. Her bond was set at $50,000 according to Ebensburg state police. No date was available for DeStefano’s preliminary hearing.
(Editor’s note: Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.)