HORNELL — A resident of an Arc of Steuben house in Hornell was found dead from an apparent neck wound Monday morning, and an employee at the home has been charged with his murder.
A 911 emergency call from 65 Elm St. at 7:39 a.m. was followed by the discovery of the victim — 60-year-old Jay Sprague — in an upstairs bedroom.
“Based on evidence found at the scene, investigators interviewed a suspect, Alan Schultheis, 64, of 224 Greeley Ave., Hornell,” Hornell Police Chief Ted Murray told reporters at a press conference Monday afternoon.
“After interviewing Mr. Schultheis at the Hornell Police Department, he was arrested and charged with murder in the second degree for his involvement in the death of Mr. Sprague," Murray said. "The New York State Police Identification team is assisting at the location of the event, and this portion of the investigation is ongoing.”
Hornell Police Inv. Tom Aini, Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker, NYSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) Lt. Samuel P. Spezio and Lt. Jason Haag and Hornell Mayor John Buckley joined Chief Murray in announcing the arrest.
Murray said he spoke to the victim’s family.
“(Sprague’s) got a large family in the Arkport area. I talked to several members of the family, and they’re just floored by the whole thing, understandably so,” Murray said. “They just talked about what a wonderful person their brother was, and they couldn’t understand what happened.”
Buckley praised law enforcement officials for their investigation.
“Obviously this is very unsettling for this to happen in the City of Hornell,” Buckley said. “We want to thank the Hornell Police Department for their rapid response along with our partners in the State Police. They deployed numerous assets to the City of Hornell.”
“This is another situation where cooperative efforts of law enforcement, the Hornell Police department and the New York State Police, have led to the rapid closure of a very difficult case,” Baker added. “This is a situation where in approximately eight hours we’ve gone from a 911 call to arresting someone for murder. The only suspect in this case has been arrested, and we are not seeking additional suspects, so there is no one else we believe is at large.”
Schultheis, who was not at the Elm Street house when he was picked up by police for initial questioning, was also charged with tampering with physical evidence for allegedly “attempting to dispose of evidence of the crime,” Baker said.
Schultheis has been remanded to the Steuben County Jail without bail.
Baker declined to answer questions about a possible motive, whether there are eyewitnesses to the alleged attack or the nature of the evidence investigators have collected.
“The investigation is ongoing,” he said. “A motive is not something that we have to prove in a criminal case. So we believe we have the person who committed the crime placed under arrest. As far as how and why, that’s not something we can really talk about at this stage of the investigation.”
Both Baker and Murray confirmed that Schultheis had a connection to the residence.
“At this stage we’re aware that he was an employee,” Baker said. “As far as what his job duties were, and what they were at the time of the attack, we’re not clear at this stage of the investigation.”
The New York State Police Violent Crimes Investigative team, its Forensic Identification Unit and Bath-based and Wayland-based investigators are assisting on the case, Spezio said.