Discovery immediately classified as homicide

Reports of coroner, state police troopers list Luna's death as murder

Posted April 4, 2005 -- His body was found crouched beneath his still-idling car, face down in an ice-cold stream, stabbed thirty-six times. He was still dressed in a business suit and a black overcoat. Blood was smeared along the driver's side door and fender of the car, as if he had stumbled along the outside of the car before falling into the creek. His body was crouched beneath the underside of the car, as if hiding from his assailant or assailants. Perhaps most tellingly, a "large pool of blood" was found on the floor of the rear passenger compartment of the car, where he obviously lay bleeding before he left the car for the creek.

Luna's 2003 Honda Accord, found idling at the side of a creek

Those who first arrived at the scene determined Jonathan Luna was clearly a victim of a homicide. Documents filed both by the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Lancaster County coroner, tell the story of the perplexing discovery made on the morning of December 4, 2003.

In an application for a search warrant filed to search Luna's car the morning of Luna's death, PA State Trooper Douglas Burig classified the death as "Criminal Homicide Title 18/2501." Burig requested to search Luna's car for, "Any and all: blood, bodily fluids, hairs, fibers, latent prints, any weapons or implements capable of piercing or causing injury to a human body...."
In his application for a search warrant, Burig recounts the strange events of that morning:

"Your affiant is a member of the Pennsylvania State Police assigned to the criminal investigation unit at the Lancaster Barracks. Your affiant has been employed by the State Police for approximately nine years and has underwent a detailed course of instruction in various aspects of criminal investigations," Trooper Burig wrote.

(Top) Sensenig and Weaver Well Drilling Co. in Denver, PA. The Y-shaped tree on extreme right is where Luna's car was found idling.
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(Bottom) Fork shaped tree where Luna's idling car was discovered.
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"On 12/04/03 at approximately 0530 hours, Daniel Gehman, an adult male, contacted the Pennsylvania State Police- Ephrata barracks via telephone. Gehman related he is an employee of Sensenig and Weaver Well Drilling located at 1439 Dry Tavern Road, Brecknock Township, Lancaster County, PA. Gehman related he observed a silver colored vehicle on the company property which was partially in a creek. Gehman related there did not appear to be anyone around the vehicle.

"On 12/04/03 at approximately 0545 hours, Patrol Unit Troopers James Fassnacht and Keith Noll from the Pennsylvania State Police- Ephrata Barracks arrived at Sensenig and Weaver Well Drilling. Trooper Fassnacht observed a silver colored Honda Accord with its front wheels and engine compartment over the edge of a creek embankment on the Northern side of the company property. Trooper Fassnacht related the vehicle was bearing Maryland registration plate UNC 0011. Trooper Fassnacht observed what appeared to be blood smeared on the drivers' side door and left front fender of the vehicle. Trooper Fassnacht observed what appeared to be a large pool of blood on the right rear passenger floor board of the vehicle. Trooper Fassnacht also observed numerous bills of United States currency scattered throughout the interior of the vehicle and cell phone equipment. Trooper Fassnacht observed the vehicle was running and had no apparent exterior or interior damage consistent with a vehicle collision.

"Trooper Fassnacht examined the rest of the scene. Trooper Fassnacht observed the body of a deceased adult African American male lying face down in a creek in close proximity to the front wheels and undercarriage of the Honda Accord. The male was attired in a business suit.

"A query of the Maryland Department of Motor vehicles computerized vehicle records revealed the Honda Accord was registered to Jonathan Paul Luna of 6625 US 101 West Lombard ST. Baltimore MD 21201. (This is the address of the federal courthouse in Baltimore --ed.)

"On 12/04/03 at 0805 hours, Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Barry Walp declared the victim deceased at the scene.

Documents filed by the Lancaster County coroner (top) and the PA State Police (bottom) the morning of Luna's death clearly indicate homicide.

To download a copy of the coroner's report in PDF format (76k) click here.

To download a copy of the PA State Police request for a search warrant in PDF format (236k) click here.

"On 12/04/03 at approximately 1100 hours, Lancaster County Forensic Pathologist Dr. Wayne Ross examined the victim at the scene and observed a traumatic wound to the right side of the victim's head."

Also that morning, Lancaster County, PA, coroner Dr. Barry Walp filed a preliminary Coroner's Investigation Form which listed "Homicide" as the "Manner of Death." The primary cause of death, Dr. Walp reported, was "Fresh water drowning / multiple stab wounds."

"Body of deceased found face down in creek along Rt. 897 in Brecknock twp," the coroner's report continues." Motor of car, Honda, still running, front wheels over creek bank. Deceased found in business suit & black overcoat. Found approximately 6:45am. Pronounced by me at scene at 8:05am. Assisted at scene by Wayne Ross, MD, pathologist. Autopsy ordered."