Person Beats Man and Woman to Death With Hammer, Sets Self on Fire Inside Berks County Home, Police Say

An autopsy revealed Joanne Deluca and Ira Reed, Jr., both died from blunt force trauma while the unidentified person died from smoke inhalation

What to Know

  • A couple was beaten to death with a hammer by an unidentified person who then lit themselves on fire in a double-murder suicide.
  • Joanne Deluca, 63, and her boyfriend Ira Reed, Jr., 60, both died from blunt force trauma. They were found dead in their home in Union Twp.
  • Police are working to identify the third person who they said killed the couple before lighting themselves on fire.

An unidentified person beat a couple to death with a hammer inside a Berks County home before setting themselves on fire in a double murder-suicide, investigators revealed Monday.

Firefighters responded to a garage fire at a home on the 900 block of Chestnut Street in Union Township around 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Firefighters put the flames under control. They then found the bodies of 63-year-old Joanne Deluca and her boyfriend 60-year-old Ira Reed, Jr., as well as a third unidentified victim.

Multiple animals were also found dead in the flames, according to police. 

Investigators said the unidentified person beat Deluca and Reed to death with a hammer. The person then went into a nearby detached garage and lit themselves on fire with a flammable substance. The fire damaged a car and garage.

An autopsy revealed Deluca and Reed both died from blunt force trauma while the unidentified person died from smoke inhalation. Investigators are using DNA testing to identify the third person.

Louise Hornak said she and her husband were in their home and heard what sounded like a gunshot followed by the sound of an explosion.

"We went to the window and the flames were shooting up above the trees already, so it must have been engulfed really fast," she said of what she saw as the fire consumed her neighbor's residence.

Another neighbor told NBC10 the home was occupied by a couple and their adult son, who moved in six years ago from New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.

Officials continue to investigate.

SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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