Son and grandson charged with murdering Plymouth Township man

Posted: July 05, 2014

A grown son with a taste for drugs. A father fed up. A murder in Montgomery County. A trip to a Walmart for supplies to hide the body.

That scenario emerged from details in court documents about how and why Jack St. Onge, an 88-year-old retiree living in a comfortable Plymouth Township home, came to be killed and have his body dumped in rural northeastern Pennsylvania.

St. Onge's son, David St. Onge Sr., 59, was charged Wednesday with third-degree murder and other offenses. The victim's grandson, David Jr., 20, faces misdemeanor charges, including abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. He did not post bail.

"It's tragic," said Thomas McGoldrick, Montgomery County deputy district attorney and chief of the trials division. "You have three generations of men from the same family, and you have a son killing his father, and a grandson helping to dispose of the body. It's horrible to even think of that happening within a family."

Jack St. Onge, a friend said, was a good neighbor, an intelligent man who once worked for the Univac computer firm. He loved to golf, said neighbor Marian Wilbar, and did so until recently.

The police affidavit of probable cause, part of the defendants' court files, presents a blend of ordinary and surreal details. Much of the information comes from the accused killer, who admitted his actions to investigators, according to the affidavit.

Needed company?

The slaying occurred on a busy two-lane stretch of Arch Road in Plymouth Township, police say, in a 2,200-square foot split-level Colonial with three bedrooms and an attached two-car garage.

St. Onge Sr. told detectives that he and his son moved there in February.

Six or seven years before, Jack St. Onge's wife had died, said Wilbar. She lives near St. Onge's house but did not have much contact with the son or grandson - though, she said, the grandson "cut my grass on Sunday afternoon, and I paid him, and that was it."

Court documents do not describe the relationship between David St. Onge Sr. and his father.

In April, St. Onge Sr. was charged with public drunkenness, according to Montgomery County Court records. Then, on June 10, according to the affidavit's account of St. Onge Sr.'s statement to detectives, "his father told him that he was going to throw him out of the house."

St. Onge Sr. grabbed a Maglite flashlight "and struck his father in the back of the head after he walked up the basement stairs." After the blow, St. Onge Sr. checked his father for signs of life and found none.

Cleanup came next, according to the affidavit.

St. Onge Sr. put his father's body in a closet, removing from him a gold bracelet, necklace, and ring. Police said St. Onge Sr. later sold those items at a Philadelphia gold buyers' shop for $583, and bought heroin and food with the money.

He used Fantastik and Lysol cleaners to remove the blood from the area where he had attacked his father, the affidavit said. Later, a Montgomery County detective examining the crime scene would notice "an area of wall that appeared to have been cleaned or recently painted" - along with blood splatter on the basement door and the foyer closet door.

After he struck his father, St. Onge Sr. asked his son, who had been doing yard work, to help him get rid of the body.

"The two went to the East Norriton Walmart, where David Sr. purchased two tarps, Gorilla brand duct tape, and two flashlights," the document said.

Father and son wrapped Jack St. Onge in the tarps, put the body in the trunk of the victim's 2007 Toyota Corolla, bought a map, and drove to a remote location in Northeastern Pennsylvania, not far from the New York border.

Ruled a homicide

On the morning of June 27, two employees of a logging company were working in a wooded area of Gibson Township, Susquehanna County, when they smelled a "foul odor." They cut a small hole in the tarp to see what was causing the smell and saw a shirt, belt, and tan pants.

They called Pennsylvania state police.

An autopsy Tuesday by the Susquehanna County Coroner's Office concluded that the manner of death was a homicide, with blunt head trauma as the cause, Coroner Anthony J. Conarton said Thursday.

During the autopsy, the doctor removed a pacemaker. St. Onge was identified through its serial number.

It was not clear on Thursday what the funeral arrangements will be. David St. Onge Sr. and David Jr. are being held in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.


cdavis@phillynews.com610-313-8109

@carolyntweets

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