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Police Reveal How Man Accused of Killing Pregnant Amish Woman Allegedly Knew of the Victim

Shawn Cranston has been charged with homicide in connection with the brutal killing of Rebekah Byler, per authorities

<p>Crawford County Correctional Facility</p> Shawn Cranston

Crawford County Correctional Facility

Shawn Cranston
  • Police say Shawn Cranston was seen near Rebekah Byler's house on several occasions prior to her slaying

  • The victim's husband Andy Byler told police he once "confronted" a man resembling Cranston when he was allegedly lingering around the Byler home late one evening, per an affidavit

  • Neighbors of the victim say Cranston exhibited "odd behavior" that made them "uneasy," the affidavit claims

Authorities say the Pennsylvania man suspected of killing Rebekah Byler, 23, in her own home in February was well-known in the area for his allegedly “odd behavior” and suspicious activities, including a possible late-night confrontation with Byler's husband.

Byler, who was six-months pregnant at the time of her death, was found by her husband Andy Byler and the family’s driver Julie Warner on Feb. 26, according to a probable cause affidavit reviewed by PEOPLE. (Members of the Amish community have drivers as they don’t drive themselves).

Shawn Cranston, 52, was arrested on March 2, in connection with the Sparta Township, Penn., slaying, PEOPLE reported at the time, citing a criminal complaint. He was charged with several offenses, including criminal homicide.

Following several interviews with neighbors and Andy, police learned about Cranston’s frequent presence in the largely Amish neighborhood and about his “odd” behavior, according to the probable cause affidavit released on Saturday.

Related: Slain Pregnant Amish Woman Was Found with 'Scalping Type Wound' and Throat Cut: Police

Andy told authorities that about two weeks before the killing, he “confronted” a man with features resembling Cranston who was allegedly lingering around their residence late in the evening, per the affidavit. Cranston allegedly expressed interest in buying the house.

Andy was not able to positively identify this "suspicious person" as Cranston, though at least one neighbor who noted similar behavior from a man with similar features eventually identified him by his first name, per the affidavit.

About 10 days before the killing, another woman named Rebecca Byler — who lived about a minute's walk from Rebekah and Andy's residence — noticed a vehicle and a man with features similar to the ones described by other neighbors, per the affidavit.

The man then pulled out of the driveway and headed in the direction of Rebekah and Andy's residence, the affidavit alleges.

<p>TIM HAHN/ERIE TIMES-NEWS/USA TODAY NETWORK</p> Pennsylvania State Police troopers searched a residence on Fish Flats Road in Sparta Township, Crawford County.

TIM HAHN/ERIE TIMES-NEWS/USA TODAY NETWORK

Pennsylvania State Police troopers searched a residence on Fish Flats Road in Sparta Township, Crawford County.

Cranston is not from the Amish community himself, authorities previously told PEOPLE. He was reportedly filling in for his son who worked as a driver for a family nearby, the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, Cranston worked one day for William Byler, who lived in the area and told police that following Cranston's work with him, the man would allegedly “randomly show up at their residence.”

William said he had “an uneasy feeling” about him, the affidavit states. (It's unclear if William or Rebecca has any relation to Rebekah and Andy.)

On one occasion, Cranston allegedly showed up at his residence and parked in the driveway, dressed in all black-clothing and carrying a pistol, per the affidavit. 

“He was walking around their property looking aimlessly into their fields and his speech made no sense,” the affidavit states. Cranston also allegedly expressed interest in attending church with them.

Related: Pennsylvania Man Charged with the Murder of Pregnant Amish Woman, 23, Who Was Found Dead in Her Home

William's separated wife Katie Byler and neighbors Clara Wengerd and Chester Wengerd expressed similar feelings about Cranston because of their interactions with him.

Clara was subsequently shown a photo of Cranston and his vehicle, which had been noted by several witnesses. She identified his vehicle as the one she’d seen in the neighborhood and identified Cranston by his first name, the affidavit states.

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Police have not yet disclosed a motive. It's not immediately clear if Cranston has retained an attorney or entered a plea.

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Read the original article on People.