2013-02-28 / Front Page

Stabbing in Wyalusing Rattles Neighborhood

By Rick Hiduk

Denise StratchDenise Stratch

Neighbors of Denise Lynn Strach on Marsh Street in Wyalusing were upset to learn that she had been arrested for stabbing Christopher Walter on Friday evening, March 1. But hardly anybody in the vicinity was shocked by the news.

“It all stems from alcohol and drugs,” one of the neighbors remarked under the condition of anonymity. He said that Strach, 51, and Walter, 48, were like “fire and water,” and the stabbing on Friday was a culmination of several years of disturbances at 101 Marsh Street and some of the homes that surround it.

None of those who were interviewed permitted the use of their names because they say that the problems in what they contend was once a quiet neighborhood extend well beyond the couple involved in the widely reported disturbance of this past weekend.

Walter was stabbed at least four times, according to State Trooper Jeffrey Sredenschek, who filed a report with Judge Michael Shaw’s office on Saturday. Walter was not clearly identified in the affidavit of probable cause, but his name was confirmed by neighbors, who indicated that he and Strach had recently rekindled an off-again, on-again relationship.

Strach has technically lived alone in the house since her former partner, Eldon Salsman, passed away in May 2010. Walter told police that he sometimes resided with Strach, with whom he was arguing on Friday evening after both of them had consumed quite a bit of alcohol.

Trooper Sredenschek was one of three officers from the Towanda barracks to respond at about 10:50 p.m. to a call about a “domestic disturbance” and asked to assist EMTs en route to the scene. When they arrived at the residence, Trooper Kevin Hibson was met by Walter, who offered his version of the incident. 

Walter told Hibson that, after arguing with Strach inside the house, he walked out into the street. Walter said that Strach followed him outside with a bottle of vodka in her hand. They argued some more, and Walter took the bottle from Strach and smashed it on the pavement.

He related that when he walked back into the house, Strach followed him and stabbed him with a knife. He didn’t know what had happened at first, feeling only a strong pain and pressure in his back. Walter told Hibson that he turned around and punched Strach in the face.

His senses dulled by alcohol, Walter did not realize that he that had been stabbed until he saw that he was bleeding from his right arm. He told police that after Strach stabbed him, she attempted to assist him by calling 911 and trying to control the bleeding.

Police observed three puncture wounds in Walters’ back and a four- to six-inch laceration on his right upper arm. There was also a small laceration near his left eye. It was also noted in the report that Strach had a bruise in the area of her left eye where Walter had struck her.

Walter was transported by ambulance to Robert Packer Hospital for treatment of his wounds and was soon after listed in stable condition in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Strach was transported to the state police barracks in North Towanda Township, where she initially denied stabbing Walter, saying instead that he came into the house in that condition.

Shortly after the interview, Strach allegedly became irate and, without further provocation, shouted, “He assaulted me, so I stabbed him and he ran out of the house.” Trooper Michael Moser also heard Strach scream, “I should have cut his (expletive) head off and handed it to you. That’s what I should have done!”  

Meanwhile, a bloody knife, 10- to 12-inches in length, had been found stuck in the kitchen wall behind a washer and dryer. Blood was observed in the kitchen and living room of the home. Subsequent to obtaining a search warrant, police found a blue short-sleeve T-shirt and a gray sweatshirt soaking in reddened water in the washing machine.

Cuts and bloodstains on the clothing matched the wounds that police had earlier observed on Walter. The broken vodka bottle that he had earlier mentioned was found on the north side of the street.

Strach has been charged for criminal attempt to commit criminal homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, and tampering with evidence, as police allege that Strach was attempting to destroy the evidence by washing Walter’s clothing.

Strach was remanded to the Bradford County Correctional Facility in lieu of $500,000 bail and faces a preliminary hearing at Judge Fred Wheaton’s office on March 12.

Back on Marsh Street, neighbors suggested that Strach was notorious for being intoxicated outside her home and yelling from her yard, and there was apparently another ruckus in and around the home earlier on Friday night. Neighbors said that there was a fight at about nightfall that involved Strach, Walter and three or four other people known to live nearby. 

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