Autopsy finished, hearing set

By Ashley Luthern


Two women accused of killing a 20-year-old Beaver Township woman will appear in court for the first time next Wednesday.

Ashley Marie Barber, 20, and Jade Nichole Olmstead, 18, both of Cochranton, Pa., are charged with criminal homicide, criminal conspiracy to commit criminal homicide and tampering with evidence in the death of Brandy M. Stevens of South Avenue.

Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz confirmed that he had requested the women’s preliminary hearings for the women to be postponed until a full autopsy report on Stevens was completed.

Crawford County Coroner Scott T. Schell said the autopsy is done, but that no further information, such as official cause of death, will be released until after next week’s hearing.

Schultz said that is common practice.

“We normally don’t release any information like that until the preliminary hearing,” he said.

Schell has said that Stevens suffered “multiple injuries caused by multiple different objects” and had “a wide range of traumatic injuries.”

Stevens was reported missing May 19 by her grandparents, who told Beaver Township police that Stevens had left their residence May 17. Schell has said that Stevens died the day she left home.

Beaver police said they knew Stevens was in Cochranton by tracking her cellphone records and that she was friends with Olmstead, who had resided with Stevens and her grandparents but had a current address of 29558 Drake Hill Road in Cochranton.

When Pennsylvania State Police went to investigate the Drake Hill residence after being contacted by Beaver Township, they found Stevens’ body May 23 buried in a shallow grave.

Pennsylvania State Police said both women have admitted their role in the killing.

Homicides are relatively rare in Crawford County, which has a population of about 90,000, Schultz said.

“We usually have one or maybe two a year. In 2010, we had more than normal, we had five. ... In 2011, we had three,” he said.

Schultz said this is the first 2012 homicide case in Crawford County, and “hopefully, it’s the last.”

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