Coroner: shooter showed remorse after killings before taking his own life

Bradford County Coroner Tom Carman speaks to reporters on Monday at the Bradford County Coroner’s Office in Troy.

TROY — Bradford County Coroner Tom Carman held a press conference Monday evening on the four person murder-suicide that occurred in Terry Township on Friday.

According to a report from Pennsylvania State Police on Saturday, Jesse Lee Northrup, 31 of Wyalusing is believed to have killed his stepfather Edwin Bidlack Jr., 54 of Wyalusing, his mother Candy Bidlack, 60 of Wyalusing and Johnnie Johnson, 48 of Monroeton late Friday morning at a Gooseneck Road residence, before taking his own life.

In the press conference Carman said that in the days leading up the shootings that the shooter, Northrup, had purchased a gun legally from a local gun shop and had been fired from his job at Cargill. Carman also noted that Northrup had been off of his medications, three of which were for mental health issues, for two months and that the circumstances surrounding his termination from Cargill had to do with a dispute with another employee.

Carman also confirmed that Northrup suffered from PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety.

Carmen said in the conference that cutting off prescribed medications, especially ones for mental health, should never be done, and that doing so could lead to an outburst. “That is always a risk, of course there is no way to prove that with scientific certainty, but it is a risk,” Carman clarified in the conference.

“Whenever we’re talking any sort of mental health medication, it is never a good idea to abruptly stop,” the coroner said later in the conference. “Especially for long term, meaning if you forget to take a dose that’s one thing, but if you abruptly stop and fail to continue to take the medications for longer periods it could lead to episodes of psychosis, rebounding of anxiety depression ... whatever your diagnosis is.”

Carman also clarified the timeline of events on the day of the shootings. He noted that Mrs. Bidlack was shot first by the element of surprise in the camper in front of the house, at some point in the late morning on Friday. The shot was not at close range but from a distance, according to the coroner.

In the afternoon, Mr. Bidlack and his employee, Johnson, returned to the residence and were killed shortly after returning. Mr. Bidlack was shot in the back of the head at close range in the garage, where he operated his business Ed Bidlack Heating Co., and Johnson was shot in the basement of the home in the same manner as Mr. Bidlack.

Carman said in the conference that the bodies had blankets placed over them in the time between the shootings and when the bodies were found.

“I interpret this as a form of remorse, although the motive is unclear and may remain unclear,” Carman remarked.

The coroner said that someone in Johnson’s family came to pick him up from the home later on Friday, which was a regular occurrence as Johnson stayed at the residence during the week. There was no answer at the door. He left and returned to the home with Mr. Bidlack’s brother. It was then that they discovered Johnnie in the basement of the home.

Carman confirmed that Mr. and Mrs. Bidlack and Johnson were deceased at the time the bodies were discovered but could not confirm that Northrup was deceased at that time.

Northup’s body was discovered later in the bathroom of the home, behind a locked door. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The coroner went on to confirm that only four shots were fired and that one round was in the chamber of the weapon when recovered. There was no other ammo on Northrup’s person. There was no note recovered from the scene or from social media.

“From his social media it is apparent that he had been under stress for quite sometime,” he added of Northrup’s condition.

Carman said that state police were following a number of “good leads” on Northrup’s whereabouts in the days leading up the shooting, including a statement he made to a local bartender some time before the incident.

“Each and every one are certainly sad and horrific,” Carman said of the homicides he was worked on in the past before offering his condolences to the families of the victims.

“Whenever you have multiple victims, and in this particular case, multiple scenes on the property, each scene respectively has to be processed. There’s a high emotional impact, from an empathy and human compassion side — it’s very demanding on the responders.”

The office of the coroner is currently working on a psychological autopsy on Northrup which will take time to complete. Also a toxicology report on all four deceased will be completed in at least two to three weeks, according to Carman.

Carman also confirmed that four is highest number of deaths in a mass shooting in the county, with one other shooting totaling the same number dead some years prior.

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