Home Invasion Suspects Released, Re-arrested, Released Again

Two suspects in a home invasion last weekend were released on bond Monday, re-arrested Tuesday, and then released on bond again Thursday. The suspects, Amber Carpenter and Alexander Zuchnik, entered a home on South Constantine Street in the early hours of last Sunday. Officers and K-9 from the Three Rivers Police Department (TRPD) followed the suspects to their own home a short distance away and arrested them.

The next day, according to TRPD Det. Sgt. Sam Smallcombe, “they were released because the magistrate set bond on them, and then somebody, and I don’t know if it was the bonding company or if was a family member, came and bonded them out.”

Word of their release quickly spread on social media, prompting an angry response from a number of citizens. “I don’t know the exact amount,” of the bond, Smallcombe said. “We felt it was low, but we don’t get a lot of input on that part of it. They have like a standard formula they have to follow, and I’m sure now it’s even lower because of COVID. So they were released, and then that’s when you saw all the outrage on social media.”

Apparently, others agreed with Smallcombe that the bond was too low. “We were told by the courts that one of the judges was rather upset about it, which was kind of like, OK, that’s great that you’re upset but that doesn’t do us any good.” 

However, their release was short lived. Smallcombe said, “one of our victims from the previous weekend’s incident called and said, ‘yeah, they’re out in front of my house threatening me.’ So, that’s when we were like, ‘oh, that’s a violation of your bond conditions. That means you go back to jail. We’re not playing games with you.’”

Under conditions of bond release, it is typical for suspects to be forbidden any interaction with the victims of the crime in question. “So that’s why we arrested them and took them back to jail,” Smallcombe said. “It’s because they violated their bond conditions, and then they went right in front of the judge again, that was Judge (Robert) Pattison the second time, and then somebody, I’m assuming the bonding company the second time, because I know the bond was set at $100,000.”

Due to the widespread reaction to the crime and the suspects’ subsequent release, their arraignment took place quickly. Smallcombe said, “it’s never happened this way, but they literally walked into the jail and went right to the polycom room, so our bond violation report hadn’t even caught up with them yet. So, they’re in the jail, thrown in front of the judge, and the officer is here at the station writing out the violation. 

“Usually the next day they see the judge, and by that time the paperwork has had a chance to get uploaded to the prosecutor. The prosecutor views it, sends it over, you know, giving the process time to work. I watched it too and I was kind of like, ‘oh, they’re going without our report.’”

Because the paperwork had not arrived yet at the start of the arraignment proceeding, the judge and the defense’s counsel objected to the arrests until it became clear the suspects were arrested on a separate charge of bond violation, and not for the earlier, original crime for which they were first arrested.

Smallcombe said a lot of people were upset at how easy it was for the suspects to meet bond on Monday. “We had saw a lot of hate directed on that one. Our officers did their job. They found them, we arrested them, the prosecutor charged them, so the system worked like it’s supposed to. They just got a really low bond, which made a lot of people unhappy, and I don’t blame them. I’d be unhappy too if I lived across the street from them.”

As Smallcombe said of the arraignment hearing results, Judge Pattison set bond for Carpenter and Zuchnik at $100,000 each. Both made bail and were released again on Thursday. “Yeah, somebody put the money up for them,” Smallcombe said. “I know that the judge increased the bond for both of them to $100,000 when he saw them, but other than that, I’m sure it’s the same bond company that agreed to put the money up for them.”

Dave Vago is a staff writer and columnist for Watershed Voice. A Philadelphia native with roots in Three Rivers, Vago is a planning consultant to history and community development organizations and is the former Executive Director of the Three Rivers DDA/Main Street program.