Woman accused of killing mom with hammer waives bank robbery hearing

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PITTSBURGH —

A western Pennsylvania woman jailed on charges she murdered her mother with a hammer has waived her right to a preliminary hearing on charges she robbed a bank and tried to rob a sandwich shop days after the killing.

 Twenty-five-year-old Sara Vercauteren, of Export, was charged Jan. 10 with killing her mother, 51-year-old Dawn Marie Wagner, a day after the woman's body was found in her mobile home.

 Police believe Vercauteren killed her mother Dec. 31 for refusing to let Vercauteren borrow her car.

According to police, Vercauteren became irate with Wagner, removed a hammer from the kitchen drawer and struck her mother in the head with the hammer. An autopsy revealed that Wagner was hit with the hammer 18 times.

Police said Vercauteren dragged her mother to the bathroom where she bound her mother’s hands and legs with duct tape.

Vercauteren realized her mother was still alive and tried strangling Wagner with her hands, police said.

Vercauteren’s 2-year-old son was home at the time of the murder.

Police said Wagner’s body was found by a caretaker and her estranged husband in her trailer at the Forbes Trail Mobile Home Park.

 On Jan. 7, police say Vercauteren tried to rob a Subway shop, before robbing a PNC Bank in McKeesport. Police believe Vercauteren was supporting a heroin habit.

Vercauteren hasn't commented on any of the charges, and faces a preliminary hearing Friday  in the homicide.

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