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Boy’s Stepfather, Father Dead Following Separate Incidents

January 23, 1986

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A 14-year-old boy’s natural father was killed in a car crash after visiting him at a juvenile detention center where the youth was being held for allegedly shooting his stepfather to death.

″It’s like a bad dream. My children lost both of their fathers in less than five hours,″ said Mary Chruscial, whose son, Christopher Couch, was charged in her husband’s death.

The eighth-grade student was charged with criminal homicide in the death of Edward Chruscial, 51, his stepfather, following an argument at their Monroeville house, police in the suburban community said.

The boy was arrested Tuesday night and taken to Shuman Detention Center.

His natural father, John Couch, 43, an insurance broker from nearby McKeesport, rushed to the center after learning of the shooting. On his way home, his car skidded on a patch of ice and slid into another car in North Versailles.

Couch was pronounced dead early Wednesday at McKeesport Hospital. The driver of the other car was treated for minor injuries.

Mrs. Chruscial, who has seven children, said her husband had yelled at Christopher on Tuesday night for playing his guitar and sent him to his room.

Following an argument, Chruscial told his stepson he would be sent to his room every night for two months for ″sassing him,″ she said.

Christopher took a .22-caliber rifle from his parents’ bedroom and shot his stepfather in the head while he napped on a sofa, police said.

Mrs. Chruscial said she was washing dishes when she heard the shot.

″Chris came into the kitchen and said, ‘I just shot Ed,’ ″ Mrs. Chruscial said. ″I didn’t believe him. I went into the living room and shook (her husband). He didn’t respond. My son was in shock. He was white and crying.″

Mrs. Chruscial said she married Chruscial in 1979, a year after divorcing Couch.

Couch’s sister, Eleanor Wess, said her brother had remained ″very close″ to Christopher and his six other children.

″Even though he was divorced and separated from his family, his kids knew and she (Mrs. Chruscial) knew they could call him any time they needed help,″ Ms. Wess said. ″That’s how he found out about Chris last night - some of his kids got in touch with him.″

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