Police: Argument over car led to murder of Salem Twp. mother



SALEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A woman has been charged with homicide in the death of her mother after an argument over a car on New Year’s Eve.

Dawn Wagner, 51, was found dead in her Salem Township mobile home Thursday night.

Police said Sarah Vercauteren, 25, and her mother, Wagner, got into an argument over the use of Wagner’s vehicle on Dec. 31.

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.

Friends of Wagner said she was quiet and kind.

“Everybody was asking about her.  ‘Where’s Dawn?’” said Wagner’s friend and co-worker Donna Meyer.

Police said the last time anybody heard from Wagner was Monday.  She hadn’t been to work.

Channel 11 has learned that a text message was sent to Wagner’s cellphone from her boss Monday.

According to police, Vercauteren replied to that text, and others, in an attempt to cover up the murder.

Neighbors said they’re shocked by the news.

“It was too quiet to have happened,” said Jan Rager.

Channel 11’s Joe Holden was there as investigators impounded a car near the scene of the crime Friday afternoon. Holden confirmed through court documents that the car belonged to the victim, and was the same car allegedly used by Vercauteren in a bank robbery on Tuesday.

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