Family of Slain Pennsylvania Woman Questions Police Response to 911 Call as Search for Husband Continues

Edgar Himel, 80, is charged with homicide

What to Know

  • Police continue to search for 80-year-old Edgar Himel who is accused of killing his wife, 66-year-old Penny VanTassel-Himel.
  • Investigators said two officers responded to VanTassel-Himel's 911 call three days before she was found dead but never entered the home.
  • Himel is considered armed and dangerous. Police said he is driving his wife's dark green 2019 Nissan Rogue.

As police continue to search for a Pennsylvania man accused of killing his wife, loved ones want to know why two officers didn’t go inside the victim’s home when they responded to her 911 call three days before she was found dead.

The ordeal began on July 4 at 2:18 a.m. when two Palmer Township Police officers responded to a home on the 100 block of Old Orchard Drive in Palmer Township. A woman, later identified as 66-year-old Penny VanTassel-Himel, told the dispatcher she had an emergency at her home and confirmed her address. The line then went silent and eventually disconnected.

The two officers arrived at the home and the 911 center tried to call VanTassel-Himel back but didn’t get an answer. One of the responding officers then looked through the front windows of the home and spotted an older bald man standing in VanTassel-Himel’s bedroom, according to the affidavit.

The two officers did not enter the home and instead left the area, according to investigators.

Three days later, on July 7 at 9:37 a.m., Palmer Township Police returned to the home for a welfare check for VanTassel-Himel who was not at church that morning. When they entered the home, they found her body on the floor of her bedroom. They also found a .38 caliber revolver handgun on the top shelf of a cabinet inside the room.

Investigators said VanTassel-Himel had a gunshot wound to the head and it appeared she had been dead for several days. Her death was ruled a homicide. Police also determined that VanTassel-Himel’s husband, 80-year-old Edgar Himel, was missing.

A neighbor told investigators he spotted Himel slumped over the steering wheel inside VanTassel-Himel’s vehicle outside their home back on July 4 around 5 a.m. The neighbor tried to wake Himel up but he appeared to be intoxicated, police said. The neighbor also spotted a suitcase, hangers and two canes in the back of the vehicle, according to the affidavit.

The neighbor checked on Himel again later that morning and helped him out of the vehicle. Himel still appeared to be drunk at that point, police said. The neighbor then left his home around noon that day and did not see Himel or the vehicle when he returned.

A friend of Himel’s told police he texted her three times on the morning of July 4.

Himel allegedly told the friend that he “f----- up,” “I’m on my way out of town,” was “getting ready to hall a—out of town,” and said in a final message, “if you have seen the news you probably seen that I f----- up. I’m sorry about that.”
VanTassel-Himel’s sister also told NBC10 she called Himel on July 4 after she was unable to reach the victim.

“I called him to find out where he was at and he was driving. I asked him where was he going. He told me he didn’t know,” Dr. Nona Edwards, VanTassel-Himel’s sister, said. “And I said, ‘Well where’s Penny?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’”

Officials announced on Wednesday that Himel was charged with homicide and a warrant was issued for his arrest. 

Police said Himel is driving a dark green 2019 Nissan Rogue with the Pennsylvania license plate GHV-0051. He is described as a bald man standing 5-foot-11 with a mustache, matching the description of the man spotted in VanTassel-Himel’s bedroom, police said. Investigators are also checking the Chicago area where Himel has family members.

VanTassel-Himel’s family members told NBC10 they’ve known Himel for decades and never saw any signs of violence. They also want to know why the two officers who initially responded to her 911 call never entered the home.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli also said officials want to speak to the officers to find out what procedures were followed. One of the officers is on vacation while the other is on medical leave, according to investigators.

If you have any information on Himel’s whereabouts, please call 911.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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