Pennsylvania State Police troopers say two women accused of killing a 20-year-old Beaver Township woman who was reported missing Saturday have admitted their role in the crime.
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, according to a news release.
Stevens’ grandparents told Beaver Township police Saturday that their granddaughter had left their South Avenue residence May 17 and that they hadn’t heard from her since, reports state.
Beaver Township police sent out a nationwide missing-endangered- person bulletin because of Stevens’ insulin dependence — not because foul play was suspected — and the investigation led the department to contact the Pennsylvania State Police in Meadville to talk to Barber and Olmstead, said Beaver Police Chief Carl Frost.
Frost said Olmstead lived with Stevens and her grandparents for a while.
“We [police] had contact with Brandy and Jade, when they had issues, minor issues, such as arguing and accusing each other of things,” but neither was arrested as a result, Frost said.
Stevens told her grandparents May 17 that she was going to visit a friend in Austintown. After she was reported missing, police contacted the Austintown friend and were told Stevens was going to see Olmstead, the chief said.
Police also used Stevens’ cellphone records to trace her phone to the Cochranton area, which is where Olmstead was living, he added.
Troopers went to 29558 Drake Hill Road in Cochranton, where Barber and Olmstead resided, Wednesday to search the property for Stevens.
“When Pennsylvania State Police went over to the house to actually ask if she was there, they found her car in the garage,” Frost said.
Police then discovered a shallow grave near the residence, and Stevens’ body was exhumed with the assistance of the Crawford County coroner, who was scheduled to conduct an autopsy Thursday.
When Stevens’ body was discovered, Barber and Olmstead were taken into custody, and, police said, admitted their role in killing Stevens and burying her. They appeared in court for arraignment, were denied bond and jailed at the Crawford County Correctional Facility.
Frost said the case can serve as a reminder for family members to share their locations so they have an idea when something is amiss.
“Talk to your loved ones so you have ground rules that you can use if you come up missing,” he said.