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Bidlacks, Johnson remembered as vital community members

WYALUSING – Days after one of Bradford County’s deadliest shootings in history, the Wyalusing community is mourning the loss of a vital business and, more importantly, the tragic loss of life.

The bodies of four people, Edwin Bidlack, 54, Candy Bidlack, 60, Johnnie Johnson, 48, and Jesse Northrup, 31, were discovered at the Bidlack’s family residence on Gooseneck Road in Terry Township, just across the bridge from the Wyalusing High School, on Friday. It is believed by Pennsylvania State Police that Northrup shot and killed the Bidlacks and Johnson before turning the gun on himself that day.

Northrup was the son of Candy and stepson of Edwin. Johnson was employed by Edwin and lived at the home during the week so he could be on call for heating emergencies, according to those with knowledge of the living arrangements.

“The town is in mourning,” Wyalusing Borough Mayor Suky Burgess said. “They were good people.”

Edwin Bidlack owned a heating company, Bidlack Heating Co., that employed Johnson and was well respected in the community, according to Burgess and her husband Dave. The business had been running for more than 20 years and operated out of Bidlack’s garage.

“They were hard workers,” Dave said of Edwin and Johnnie. “They conducted themselves professionally. ... They’re going to be missed in the area.”

Suky added that Ed was integral to the community and could be called on at any time.

“He was just a good guy,” she explained.

Sarah Rodriguez and Jim Wakefield were accustomed to seeing and serving Ed and Johnnie almost everyday at Robbie’s Pizza in downtown Wyalusing. They said that the pizza shop was a daily stop for the two while they were out working. Ed’s standard order was a Hawaiian slice with a Pepsi and Johnnie ordered meat lovers with a Mountain Dew.

“They had lunch here every day. I bet there have been about five days in the last 10 months where they didn’t come in,” Wakefield said. “It’s a huge loss for the community.”

“I can’t wrap my head around it,” Rodriguez added. “We’re shocked.”

The two recalled a time when Johnnie and Ed stopped for lunch and a delivery truck accidentally got too close to Ed’s work vehicle and scraped it badly across one side. They said that Ed and Johnnie watched it happen quietly without getting upset and had a “(stuff) happens attitude.”

“They were even-keeled,” Rodriguez remembered with a chuckle. “Nothing bothered them. They were happy.”

Candy Bidlack is remembered by her daughter, Danielle Lear, as someone who was born to be a mom.

“She didn’t want anything and never raised her voice,” Lear said. “She could have lived in a tent and been happy as long as she had her family with her.”

Danielle recalled calling her mom from a jail in Florida after getting pulled over with a suspended license.

“First thing she said was take it one day at a time,” Lear said. “Then my dad asked where he could send the money.”

Ed was also Lear’s stepfather. She said he raised Jesse since he was very young and both considered him their real father.

“He always called me and he was always singing,” she remembered.

Lear also said that Johnnie was like her brother and that she loved him like family.

“He was my big brother.”

Northrup graduated from Wyalusing Valley High School in 2006 and then went on to enlist in the Army in 2007. According to his sister, Northrup was discharged from the Army honorably after he failed a physical to serve overseas. Lear said that asbestos was found in his lungs.

While he was still in the service, Lear remembers the family receiving a distressing call from Jesse. Northrup told his parents that he had personally witnessed one of his close friends shoot himself in the head.

“That really bothered him,” Lear explained. “He was young, very young at the time. He just wanted to come home”

After he came home he was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. Lear said that she noticed a change in his demeanor after he returned.

“He was not sleeping and drinking a lot. Mom and dad helped him get through it.”

In the years following his return home, Northrup worked at Cargill where he received a promotion at some point, and he worked hard on maintaining his mental health. Lear said she would frequently ask him about his mental state and that as late as Thanksgiving 2018, he said that he thought his medications were balanced right and that he was good. She also said he had a hard time sleeping still and battled depression throughout.

Northrup resided at the family home since he returned from his service.

On June 10, Northrup was fired from his job at Cargill. Lear said that the circumstances surrounding his termination was that he snapped at a co-worker. She said that he told a friend that he was going to go back and try to get his job back the next day. It is unclear if he did or not.

In a press conference on Monday, Bradford County Coroner Tom Carman revealed that Northrup had been off of his medications for two months. This is something Carman said a patient with a diagnosis of PTSD or any mental health issue should never do and that it could lead to the original symptoms returning.

Last Thursday, Northrup purchased a Smith and Wesson High Point .40 caliber handgun, legally, from a local gun shop, Carman remarked. Also, Carman noted that Northrup made a statement of interest to a local bartender on the same day.

Lear told The Review that the bartender was concerned and called Candy soon after on Thursday. She said that Candy told the bartender that she would talk with Jesse about it. Candy told Danielle about this on Thursday night when the family got together to play corn hole and hang out as they were known to do frequently.

“It was a fun, normal night. Everyone was happy and laughing,” Lear said about Thursday night. “(Ed) was singing as he normally would.”

Danielle said she asked Jesse how he was that night and that he said he had strep throat, which was why he wasn’t going to work.

“He said he hadn’t slept in three days,” she continued.

Lear also said that Northrup showed his family a picture of the gun he purchased Thursday. She said Ed and Candy told him to practice safety like Ed taught him when he was young. The family owned many guns.

The next morning, Jesse shot and killed his mother, then killed his stepfather and Johnson when they returned from a job in the afternoon according to Carman. Later, Northrup turned the gun on himself. The bodies were not found until the evening.

“I still don’t believe it,” Lear said. “I can not believe that he killed our mom.”

Lear said that Northrup and his mom were very tight knit.

“She was his best friend. She was always so calm, he told her everything,” Lear recalled. “I never would have thought they were in danger.”

For now, Danielle says that she is keeping busy to keep her mind off of the shootings and that it has not quite sunk in yet. The community’s response to the horrific event has helped her, Lear said. She has not had to cook for her four children and is appreciative of the support.

“I couldn’t ask to be in a better community, people have been helping out so much,” she said.

Currently, Pennsylvania State Police are investigating the murders and Northrup’s whereabouts in the days leading up to the shootings and the Bradford County Coroner’s office is working on a psychological autopsy on Northrup. A toxicology report on the deceased is expected within two to three weeks.

A funeral service for the Bidlacks will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday at the P. Dean Homer Funeral Home in Wyalusing. Northrup’s funeral will be held Friday at 10 a.m. Originally, military honors were to be given for Northrup, but have since been cancelled.

Johnson’s funeral date has not been announced.

Flash floods return to Bradford County

Heavy rains brought more flash flooding to Bradford County communities on Tuesday, with potentially more water to come later this week.

The National Weather Service in Binghamton issued a Flash Flood Warning for parts of northeastern Pennsylvania including Bradford County Tuesday morning until 12:45 p.m.

The Bradford County Department of Public Safety took to their Facebook page Tuesday morning to announce that due to rain Towanda Creek in Franklindale had crested and was expected to crest in Monroeton, both locations being classified as under flood stage.

Bradford County DPS also informed that an area near Canton’s fairgrounds was at a recognized “bank full” level, Sugar Creek in West Burlington had crested, and water was over the road on Route 187 South in Terry Township, Route 220 North of New Albany near Wyoming Casing, and at two locations on Hatch Hill Road between New Albany and Overton.

Tube Road in Granville was closed due to water over the road, and was expected to be closed until Tuesday after in order for Granville Township to remove debris.

While waters receded as rain stopped Tuesday afternoon, Bradford County DPS stated that “Thursday is looking like it might be a repeat of today (Tuesday)” as forecasts show more rain that day.

Bradford County DPS urged residents to monitor radios, televisions and social media in the event of bad weather for weather alerts, to be alert to rising waterways in their area, be prepared to evacuate if necessary and to “turn around, don’t drown” if one sees water over a roadway.

In the event of possible severe weather residents should prepare medications and any other necessary items for a 24 hour period and have them packed and ready, be mindful of pets and be cautious as there have been reports of creeks beginning to flood banks causing a pooling of water in fields and low lying areas, according to a Facebook post made by Bradford County DPS.

Police warn of increasing phone scams

The New York State Police are warning citizens in the Troop “C” coverage area, which covers a large portion of the Southern Tier, of continued fraudulent scams asking for money over the phone or on the internet.

Victim’s throughout the coverage area have sent large amounts of money to unknown individuals and the number of reported cases have been increasing, according to the police. Dozens of fraud cases have been reported since the start of the year and many of the scammers are from outside of the country which has lead to them being untraceable.

Scams have included; false lottery winnings where the caller requires tax to be paid before the winnings are sent, threatening of imprisonment from the I.R.S. or Social Security Administration, a false family emergency such as bail money being needed, utility and computer I.T. scams posing as companies, and scams where a purchaser will send too much money for a product on websites such as Ebay or Craigslist before asking for access to the victim’s bank account or for a check for reimbursement.

The scammers are accused of playing on the victim’s emotions, threatening to call the police and have even asked some victims to swear secrecy. Victims have been asked for gift cards such as Amazon, Good Play or Itunes cards, as well as for money transfers from Walmart to be sent by mail. Money orders and cashier’s checks have also been asked to be sent.

According to police, money that appears to be sent locally is often delivered to a vacant or unoccupied residence before being picked up so that it can not be tracked.

The New York State Police have asked that anyone receiving a call from someone claiming to be a friend or relative desperate for money should not act immediately and instead should ask questions that only that person would know. Anyone receiving such a call is asked to hang up on the call after asking questions and then contact their loved one immediately.

The police have asked citizens to not send cash to anyone they do not know, including gift cards. Lottery winnings will never have a pre-charged tax and no lottery will give money without the winning ticket in hand, police have warned.

The New York State Police have asked bank employees to be aware of customers taking out large sums of money that are inconsistent with their normal banking habits and retail store employees are asked to be aware of customers purchasing a large amount of gift cards.

Anyone that feels that they may have fallen victim to such fraudulent incidents causing them to lose money are asked to contact their local police agency.

Summer swings into Mt. Pisgah

Mt. Pisgah State Park’s annual Summer Solstice Square Dance had couplings swirling with satisfaction Friday night.

A yearly celebration of harvest, the dance welcomed Bradford County citizens for an evening of live music, square dancing and a cookout.