Drew Alan Rose, 37, of Bethlehem is charged with two counts of criminal homicide.
Aug 3, 2019
A Bethlehem man allegedly killed a Palmer Township woman by burning down her home the day after he killed her son because he wanted to rob them for rent money, according to Northampton County’s first deputy district attorney.
Drew Alan Rose, 37, was charged Friday with the homicides of 97-year-old Virginia Houck and her son, Roger Houck, 61, of Seattle, according to First Deputy District Attorney Terence Houck. Terence Houck is not related to the crime victims.
Virginia Houck was bedridden, police have said. Her home at 2901 Stephens St. in Palmer Township burned down Jan. 4. Police suspected the fire was intentionally set but had not named a suspect until Friday.
According to Terence Houck, Rose went to the home around 2 p.m. Jan. 3 and strangled Roger Houck. He returned early Jan. 4, Terence Houck said.
“He took a bedridden Virginia Houck … down into the basement. He also took the deceased body of Roger Houck down into the basement and subsequently spread an accelerant on their bodies after binding them and lighting the house on fire," Terence Houck said.
Rose drove Roger Houck’s car two blocks away to make it appear no one was home, the affidavit says.
Terence Houck said Rose “was in need of money for rent.” An affidavit of probable cause says Rose’s girlfriend, Amanda Rouselle, overheard a conversation Rose had with his mother about needing his half of the $900 rent money for the apartment he shared with his mother at 730 Broadway in Bethlehem.
Rouselle told police Rose was “off his rocker” and dressing “bum like” in the weeks following the house fire, the affidavit says. Rose’s mother, Kim Rose, reported him to police as missing and possibly suicidal on Jan. 15. She called to cancel that report later on Jan. 15, the affidavit says.
Drew Rose eventually confessed the crime to Rouselle in February, and Rouselle told police about the confession on Thursday, Aug. 1, the affidavit says.
Terence Houck said Rose’s mother was previously a medical caretaker for Virginia Houck, although she hadn’t worked for Virginia Houck for at least a year leading up to the homicides. Drew Rose knew Virginia Houck was often home by herself, Terence Houck said.
Terence Houck said police have evidence that the home was robbed although they aren’t in possession of any of the stolen items.
The home was completely destroyed by the fire. Police needed medical records to identify the bodies, the affidavit says. It says duct tape, black zip ties and red webbing were used to secure parts of the bodies of both victims.
In addition to homicide, Drew Rose is charged with abuse of a corpse, aggravated arson, burglary and recklessly endangering the lives of the firefighters who responded to the blaze. Four firefighters were in danger of falling through the first floor as they tried to put out the fire, the affidavit says.
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