Cody J. Potthoff

Cody J. Potthoff

Cody J. Potthoff, 25, of Corry, is accused of murdering Corry resident Ian Michael Welden, 41, and Harborcreek Township resident John Charles Burick, 66, and troopers believe Burick was kidnapped from his home at gunpoint.

Autopsies for both victims were performed at the coroner's office in Erie on Friday. Erie County Coroner Lyle Cook said Welden died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and Burick died from a single gunshot wound to the head.

Cook ruled both deaths as homicides.

Welden was pronounced dead at 7:43 p.m. on Wednesday and Burick was pronounced dead at 5:20 a.m. on Friday.

Potthoff allegedly put Welden's body in the trunk of a silver Nissan Sentra that was reportedly stolen from a North East woman, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed with a police criminal complaint.

Potthoff was driving the Nissan, which still contained Welden's body, on Wednesday morning and fled from an attempted traffic stop by an Edinboro Borough Police officer on Route 6N at about 10:40 a.m. Troopers from numerous Pennsylvania State Police barracks were called in to assist with the pursuit.

While fleeing from police in the Edinboro area, Potthoff crashed the vehicle and then fled on foot, heading east through a field toward Hamilton Road. Welden's body was found in the trunk of the Nissan after it was towed to PSP Girard.

Potthoff is accused of stealing a Washington Township man's ATV and then robbing the owner of a white 2013 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck at gunpoint at a residence on Crane Road before fleeing west, causing a nearly 24-hour manhunt to ensue that spanned two counties.

Information obtained during Wednesday's search revealed Potthoff was seen near Mindi Court Trailer Park in Harborcreek Township but police were unable to locate him.

PSP Corry received information that Potthoff was at a Columbus Township residence in the 43000 block of Route 6 in a red pickup truck. The truck was registered to Burick, who lived on Dynes Avenue in Harborcreek.

The affidavit states Corry troopers saw Potthoff run inside a residence and residents exited the house, including a witness who was interviewed.

The witness stated Potthoff arrived there at about 5:30 p.m. in a red pickup truck and he had dried blood on his arms in the form of "blood splatter" as well as cuts on his face, arms and legs with a chrome pistol with pearl grips in the front area of his pants.

The witness told police Potthoff made a statement to the effect that he had shot the owner of the red truck he arrived in and used soap and a hose to wash off his arms. Troopers arrived at the residence at about 5:40 p.m. and Potthoff fled inside the residence, which was eventually searched with negative results.

Officers who viewed the red pickup truck saw a significant amount of blood inside and outside the vehicle.

Members of PSP Erie were dispatched to Burick's residence to conduct a welfare check at about 6:06 p.m. on Wednesday.

Troopers said the residence was neat and clean with nothing out of place with no signs of forced entry. A man door to enter the garage was opened inwardly and two bay doors into the garage were open. Burick's cellphone was plugged in on the kitchen counter.

A neighbor observed Burick driving away from his home and did not appear to have a cellphone but he was believed to be talking to someone else or to himself in the vehicle.

The criminal complaint states Potthoff was charged with kidnapping because he forcibly removed Burick from his residence at gunpoint.

A possible site for Burick's body was developed and troopers began searching for him at 11 p.m. on Thursday. Burick's body was discovered while police were checking a state game land on Calkins Road in Greenfield Township after they found tire tracks leading from the parking lot into nearby woods.

State police later learned Potthoff had entered another Columbus Township residence on Center Road sometime between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The individual removed keys from a table, entered a garage and fled the area in a blue 2012 Jeep Liberty.

On Friday morning, Potthoff was located at a homeless shelter located 4519 Miller Hill Road in Conewango Township and was taken into custody. Police found a Raven Arms MP .25 caliber chrome pistol with pearl grips in the room where Potthoff was found.

A large amount of blood was found within Burick's vehicle, encompassing the driver's and passenger's sides. A .25 caliber shell casing matching the ammunition loaded in Potthoff's gun was found in the vehicle.

Potthoff was charged Friday with felony counts of criminal homicide, murder of the first degree, murder of the second degree, aggravated assault - attempts to cause serious bodily injury or causes injury with extreme indifference, kidnapping, robbery of a motor vehicle, theft by unlawful taking and firearms not to be carried without a license as well as misdemeanor charges of abuse of corpse and possession of weapon in connection to Burick's murder.

He also faces felony charges of aggravated assault and firearms not to be carried without a license as well as misdemeanor counts of possession of weapon and abuse of corpse in connection to Welden's murder.

Potthoff was arraigned before District Judge Scott Hammer on Thursday evening. He was committed to Erie County Prison and denied bail since he was charged with homicide and more homicide charges were pending.

A preliminary hearing for Potthoff has tentatively been scheduled for 10 a.m. July 2 before Hammer.

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