A rural Pennsylvania family suffered a shocking tragedy that left one man standing when a father killed two home invaders that had murdered his wife and son, and then realized that one of the killers he had shot down was his long-estranged daughter. The family shootout was reported on by Time on Sept. 30.
Josephine Ruckinger had not seen her family for more than 20 years. In a morbid homecoming scene, her and husband Jeffrey had one thing planned: To murder Josephine’s parents and brother.
Last Friday, at the Ruckinger’s mobile home in Allegheny Township, Pa., there was a knock at the door. Josephine’s mother Roberta Frew, 64, answered the door and was shot dead at point-blank range. Jeffrey Ruckinger then opened fire and shot Josephine’s brother, 47-year-old John Frew Jr. multiple times in the chest, killing him.
“[Josephine and Jeffrey] parked at the bottom of a long driveway, and walked up, heavily armed,” says Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan.
John Frew Sr., 67, went into the bedroom and grabbed a .22 revolver and came out to face the woman that had killed his wife. She was pointing the shotgun at him; Frew didn’t hesitate, firing and hitting her in the head, then turning and firing on the man that had killed his son, gunning him down as well.
It was only after the bloody chaos was over that John Sr. recognized the women he killed was his daughter.
“What we are lead to believe, at this point, [is that] he had no idea that was his daughter until after the fact, after everything unfolded,” Pennsylvania State Trooper John Matchik Jr. said.
Matchik said Frew Sr. “has been very cooperative in this particular situation,” adding that Frew is clearly in shock over the horrific circumstances.
A relative told police that two decades ago, Josephine Frew trashed her parent’s home, stole money and a pistol, and ran off with a boy. They had not heard from her and had “basically disowned her.”
Evidently, the Ruckingers had planned to destroy any evidence of their gruesome murder. Searches of their vehicle turned up a gas can, lighter fluid and a large amount of ammunition.
“I have been in the coroner's office since 1980 and we have not had this many deaths, from a homicide, in a single incident,” Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkoski said.