Judge rules more than enough evidence for jail escapee charged in slaying to go to trial

State police questioning escaped inmate suspected of killing woman

KITTANNING, Pa. — A man who allegedly killed a female acquaintance after he escaped from the Armstrong County Jail faced a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

During the hearing before an Armstrong County district judge, prosecutors revealed details about how they believe Robert Crissman, 38, killed Tammy Long, 55, after escaping from jail last month.


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Investigators testified that Crissman approached the home of Long and her boyfriend, Jerry Slagle, after walking away from the Armstrong County Jail the morning of July 30. Slagle came home from work that afternoon to find Long’s body in the bathroom.

Prosecutors said Long was hit in the head and strangled with a shoelace.


"To strike someone with such force that you break a toilet cover into that many pieces and then to strangle them after that, it can only be brutal and angry,” Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi said.

Defense attorney Chuck Pascal said Wednesday was the first time he heard about much of the evidence that was presented during the hearing and questioned the steps taken by investigators.

"What surprised me is in a case where the alleged murder weapon is a shoelace, the state police conduct a search of the house and don't look at shoes,” Pascal said.

The judge ultimately ruled that there’s more than enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Long’s family said that while the homicide charges against Crissman move forward, they’re conducting their own investigation.

"We're in the process of finalizing that. We do plan to file a legal claim against the county and the jail,” George Kontos, the Long family’s attorney, said.Authorities said Crissman escaped while delivering breakfast to other inmates as part of the Armstrong County Jail’s trusty program.

An outside investigator has been hired to review that program, which has been suspended, and other aspects of the incident.

Andreassi told Channel 11 News that he expects the jail board will vote to end the trusty program during a meeting Thursday.

Crissman was jailed at the time for violating his probation on a drug case and didn't have a record of violent crimes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.