A 30-year-old man pleaded guilty this week to third-degree murder for killing his cousin last year, then burning his body with the help of the man’s estranged girlfriend and a second man in a botched cover-up of the crime.
Derek Louk entered the plea Thursday in Bedford County Court in the killing of Tyler Matthai. He also pleaded guilty to abuse of a corpse, Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry said in a news release on Thursday.
Louk will serve 15 to 30 years in prison under the terms of his plea agreement, prosecutors said. He’s set to be sentenced on Sept. 22.
Officials said that Louk admitted to fatally shooting Matthai on April 26, 2022, then conspired with two others to burn the body and cover up the crime.
“The defendant not only pulled the trigger, he then conspired to conceal his horrific crimes by destroying the evidence — the victim’s body,” Henry said. “With this plea, he is accepting responsibility for such senseless acts of violence and disregard for human life.”
His defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request on Saturday from Law&Crime for comment.
Matthai’s estranged girlfriend Courtney S. Boden was sentenced to 2¼ to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to helping burn the body and the cover-up. A second man, Jordon Robertson, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, prosecutors said.
It all went down on April 26, 2022, when authorities Louk allegedly shot Matthai with an AR-15 rifle twice after Matthai burst into his home and dragged Boden into a car outside.
Louk then allegedly dragged his corpse to a hole in his yard, buried it under tires, doused it in kerosene and burned it for six hours while he slept, authorities said in a criminal complaint and affidavit obtained by Law&Crime.
The May 14, 2022, criminal complaint and affidavit document the case and includes statements Louk authorities said he made to police after his arrest at his home.
Louk said he and Boden had been friends since he moved to Bedford County, Pennsylvania, seven years earlier. Matthai and Boden had an abusive relationship, according to the document.
Louk said Matthai busted into his front door, dragged Boden from his living room, and threw her in her Pontiac’s back seat. Louk told investigators he retrieved an AR-15 rifle from inside his house, went back outside and fired a single shot that struck Matthai in the right arm while standing next to the Pontiac sedan’s driver’s side door, the document said.
He said Matthai then leaned into the car, and he fired a second shot striking him in the back, the document said. After shooting Matthai, Louk knew he was dead because he checked for a pulse on Matthai’s neck multiple times, according to the affidavit.
Louk then dragged his cousin’s body across his yard and placed it in a hole in the ground, the affidavit said. He put tires on top of the body and poured kerosene on the pile before lighting it on fire, the document said.
Louk said the fire burned for six hours while he went to sleep, the affidavit said. When he woke up the following morning, he shoveled dirt on where he had burned Matthai’s corpse, he said, according to the document.
Authorities said a relative told police Boden stated that Matthai had been doing drugs and was high that night. She said he was physical with Boden, and Louk told him to stop, or he would shoot him, court documents said.
The woman said Boden told her he did not stop, and Louk allegedly shot him in the upper left arm, according to the affidavit.
Boden told the witness that she stopped the bleeding, and Matthai began doing more drugs, overdosed and died.
“She related they then disposed of the body and belongings in an unknown manner, but there was nothing left of the body,” the affidavit said. Boden tried to clean bloodstains from a vehicle, destroy other evidence, and tried to sell the murder weapon, prosecutors said.
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