Men accused in Connellsville woman's brutal death ordered to stand trial

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CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. - Two Fayette County men accused of killing a woman who was found floating in the Youghiogheny River last month were ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Craig Allen Rugg, 24, of Connellsville, and Paul Jerome Bannasch, 24, of Uniontown, are charged with homicide, kidnapping, aggravated indecent assault and other charges in the June 22 death of Margaret “Peggy Sue” Kriek, 52, of Connellsville.

A group of Boy Scouts found Kriek's nude body on rocks in the middle of the Youghiogheny River at 10 a.m. June 22 near Adelaide Road in Dunbar Township, Trooper Nathaniel Lieberum testified during the hearing before Connellsville District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr. An autopsy showed Kriek was strangled and had numerous cuts, bruises and scrapes to her face and body, he testified.

Prosecutors played a recording in which Rugg is heard acknowledging that he and Bannasch kicked Kriek repeatedly until she stopped breathing and pushed her into the Youghiogheny River.

Rugg, in the recording, said the three had met earlier at Sidewinders bar in Connellsville. They left and were having a “sexually explicit” conversation with Kriek when the victim told them she was no longer interested in being with them, Rugg said on the recording.

“When we got to the parking lot of the train station, she told us she was no longer interested,” Rugg said on the recording.

Rugg went onto say that he got mad and punched Kriek in the face.

“It aggravated me,” Rugg said on the recording. “I turned around and punched her in the face.”

Rugg said both men dragged Kriek through a gravel lot at the Amtrak station on Water Street and over railroad tracks to the banks of the Youghiogheny River. They both kicked Kriek until she stopped breathing and her body went into the river, he said on the recording.

“We both physically assaulted her with our boots,” Rugg said. “The combination of both stomping and kicking.”

Assistant District Attorney Doug Sepic said after the hearing that the death penalty will likely be considered.

“The autopsy shows how brutally beaten this lady was, and it’s horrendous. She was black and blue from head to toe -- virtually unrecognizable,” Sepic said. “There was no reason to kill her other than, I believe, for a thrill when they got her isolated.”

Rugg said in his confession that they were scared, but otherwise had no motive for beating Kriek to death.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.