investigation

Authorities investigate the death of Sarah E. Jones, 61, at 1332 W. Holly St., Coal Township, Sunday afternoon

COAL TOWNSHIP — A 39-year-old Coal Township man, who is considered by police a potential suspect in connection with the death of a woman found Sunday afternoon in an upstairs bedroom at 1332 W. Holly St., has been charged with drug offenses.

Christopher M. Depka, of 1332 W. Holly St., was arraigned at approximately 11 p.m. Sunday by Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III on misdemeanors of possessing methamphetamine, possessing a small amount of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia relating to an incident Sunday at his home.

The charges were filed by Cpl. Joshua Wynn and Detective Matthew Hashuga.

Gembic committed Depka to Northumberland County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail. Depka is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing before Gembic at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 7.

Coal Township Police Chief Edward Purcell said Depka is a potential suspect in the death of the woman found inside the home.

Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley identified the woman Monday evening as Sarah E. Jones, 61, of West Holly Street, Coal Township. He did not release a manner or cause of death, but said an autopsy is scheduled for 8 a.m. today in Allentown.

Authorities said Depka was Jones’ son.

Jones was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:50 a.m. Sunday by Northumberland County Chief Deputy Coroner James Gotlob.

According to a criminal complaint, Coal Township and Shamokin police went to 1332 W. Holly St. to check on the welfare of a woman who also lived at the home. While police were conducting the welfare check requested by a concerned neighbor, they located Depka in a bathroom, where they also found a syringe with a needle attached.

Police also located a black bag in the bathroom containing syringes with needles, suspected marijuana and a white powder.

Police reported Depka was ripping up flooring when the found him.

Depka was detained and searched by Shamokin Patrolman James Filko, who found a bag of methamphetamine in Depka’s shorts.

In a search warrant obtained by police Sunday from Gembic, police stated, “Officers observed that there was what appeared to be blood spattering on the walls throughout the bedroom. And there was also spattering of what appeared to be blood on the ceiling at different locations.”

Police revealed in the search warrant that they do not believe the death was caused by natural causes. They said a baseball bat was found in the bedroom at the time Jones’ body was discovered.

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