Brandin Lee Kasick, a 26-year-old former carpet cleaner from Breinigsville, was arrested Sunday in Sarasota, Fla., and charged with two counts of criminal homicide for his involvement in the March 11 deaths of Althea Walbert and her daughter, Jeannette, Pennsylvania State Police at Bethlehem said at a press conference this morning.
He was also charged with burglary and theft by unlawful taking or disposition, they said.
Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin said he would seek the death penalty in the case.
"This was a heinous crime perpetrated on two vulnerable people who trusted a man who previously had done work in their home, and that trust was turned against them," Martin said, "The Lehigh Valley has had its share of unspeakable crimes, but this is one of the worst cases I have seen in 14 years as District Attorney."
The women, who were last seen by neighbors on March 8, were killed by "sharp force trauma to the neck," Martin said, though he would not elaborate further.
Those details will be revealed during the trial, he said.
Kasick, who has no known current address but who has had Lehigh Valley addresses in Orefield, Breinigsville and Allentown, had cleaned the Walberts' carpets multiple times between 2005 and 2009 as an employee of Chem-Dry, said Capt. William Teper, commanding officer of Troop M, Bethlehem.
Kasick is being held in the Sarasota County Jail.
Walbert, 82, a lifelong and beloved member of the Alburtis community, was last seen in her 122 Cobblestone Court residence on March 8 when she was visited by a neighbor.
The mother and daughter were found when a friend stopped by on the morning of March 11 to check on the women because they had not been seen or heard from for several days.
Alburtis Police Chief Robert Palmer was first on the scene that day, and within 30 minutes had a swarm of law enforcement support, he said at the conference.
From that point on, Palmer also made every effort to calm his distraught community, telling them that the killings were "a crime of opportunity," in an effort to calm frightened residents.
Indeed, Althea Walbert was known to be a bit eccentric and to carry large amounts of cash -- some said up to $40,000 -- in her purse.
Her purse was not found among her belongings on the morning of March 11, and State Police say that Kasick, who was unemployed and whose unemployment benefits had run out, had spent up to $3,000 in cash between March 8 and March 11.
Palmer thanked Martin, Teper and "each and every one of you who worked on this case," he said speaking directly to a gathering of troopers who also attended the press conference.
"This means so much to me," Palmer said.