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Suspect in Missing Man’s Death Due in Court This Week
Court documents indicate 22-year-old Eric Francis Beichner, of Franklin, is scheduled to stand for a preliminary hearing in front of Magisterial District Judge Patrick E. Lowrey at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, February 13.
He faces one first-degree count of Criminal Homicide.
The charge was filed after Oil City Police conducted multiple interviews with witnesses following the disappearance of Daniel “Danny” Kulling II. Kulling was reported missing by his family on December 26, 2017. He was 34 at the time.
Danny Kulling Reported Missing
A criminal complaint filed by Patrolman DeLoe indicates the investigation was initiated on December 26, 2017, when police received a report that Daniel “Danny” Kulling II, of Oil City, had gone missing from his Martin Street residence.
A check of Kulling’s house arrest ankle monitor revealed his last known location was in the 100 Block of Oak Grove Street in the Siverly area.
A search ensued for Kulling; however, he was unable to be located.
Eric Beichner Reports Alleged Altercation
On December 31, 2017, around 11:34 p.m., Eric Beichner arrived at the Oil City Police station where he told officers on duty that he had been involved in a physical altercation with an unknown black male on December 28, 2017. Beichner said the altercation took place on a railroad bridge in Oil City commonly known as the Wye Bridge. Beichner told police that the man fell off the bridge into the Allegheny River during the dispute.
Further information provided in court documents by Patrolman DeLoe indicates that Beichner gave police inaccurate information during the interview.
Kulling’s Body Found in Allegheny River
On the morning of May 28, 2018, a kayaker discovered a body in the Allegheny River.
An autopsy was conducted at the Erie County Coroner’s Office on May 29, 2018, and the body was identified as that of Danny Kulling.
Eric Beichner Questioned
On May 31, 2018, Eric Beichner was questioned at the Oil City Police Department regarding the events which he claimed took place on December 28, 2017.
During the interview, Beichner admitted to police that the man he engaged in an altercation with that day was not black as he reported to police on December 31, 2017.
The criminal complaint indicates that when Beichner was asked if the male who he engaged in an altercation with was Daniel Kulling, he stated “I think it could have been” and “there is a high probability that it was.”
Beichner told police that he “did not want to think it was Danny” and that he “thinks it was Danny, but he did not want to believe it,” according to the criminal complaint.
The criminal complaint notes that Beichner said he saw photos of Danny Kulling circulating after the incident and he had “a feeling that it probably was Danny but he didn’t want to believe it.”
According to the criminal complaint, Beichner further stated that he “didn’t want to deal with having a homicide on (his) conscience.” Furthermore, he said, “being responsible for someone’s death, do you know how bad that eats away at you?”
Witness One Interviewed
The criminal complaint states that on June 13, 2018, police conducted an interview with a known male, identified in court documents as Witness One, who stated that Beichner sent him a text message sometime between December 23, 2017, and December 27, 2017, stating that he was “going to jail, he threw someone off the bridge.”
According to the criminal complaint, Witness One saw Beichner the next day and said Beichner was “freaking out.” He said Beichner told him about the incident on the bridge. Beichner told Witness One that a black male assaulted him during the altercation. Witness One told police that he did not believe he was being told the full story.
Witness Two Interviewed
Between October 10, 2018, and February 5, 2019, Oil City Police conducted multiple interviews with a known male, identified in court documents as Witness Two, who is currently incarcerated with Beichner at the Venango County Jail. Beichner is serving time in a case involving counterfeit money used to pay for sex acts.
According to the criminal complaint, Witness Two told investigators that Beichner said he knew Kulling. Beichner allegedly told Witness Two that he and Kulling were involved in illegal activities.
Beichner allegedly told Witness Two that he met with Kulling on the night of the incident to conduct a drug transaction. During the transaction, a struggle ensued over the control of the drugs resulting in Kulling “falling, being pushed, or struck, causing him to go over the side of the bridge and into the Allegheny River.”
The criminal complaint states that Beichner also told Witness Two that the incident happened on December 23, 2017. He said that Kulling tried to “take his sh*t and no one takes his sh*t and he would do it again.”
Witness Three Interviewed
On January 31, 2019, investigators interviewed a third individual, identified as Witness Three, who spoke with Beichner at a residence in Oil City on an undisclosed date. Beichner told Witness Three that he was involved in a physical altercation with a male on the Wye Bridge and the incident resulted in the male going over the bridge and into the Allegheny River, according to the criminal complaint.
Eric Beichner Jailed on Homicide Charges
The criminal complaint indicates that investigators concluded that the struggle occurred during the early morning hours of December 24, 2017, and that Beichner did cause the death of Kulling.
Oil City Police Patrolman DeLoe subsequently filed one first-degree count of Criminal Homicide against Beichner at Magisterial District Judge Andrew F. Fish’s office on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.
Beichner was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Patrick E. Lowrey Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
He remains lodged in the Venango County Jail. Bail was denied.
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