BUFFALO – The two homeless men who are accused of killing a member of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra during a home burglary will be held without bail. That after both 43 year-old Jonathan Conklin and 30 year-old Charles Sanford appeared in Buffalo Federal Court Thursday for a detention hearing on federal charges related to carjacking, using a gun during a violent crime and bringing a stolen vehicle across state line.
According to an article in Friday’s Jamestown Post-Journal, prosecutors used the hearing to provide details into the crime and convince the court that bail should not be given. The two have not yet been formally charged with murder, as a county grand jury is still considering state murder charges.
However, according to today’s report, County Sheriff Joe Gerace has said that both men have confessed to committing the crime against 61 year-old Mary Whitaker, a concert violinist from New York City who spent her summers at Chautauqua Institution and lived off grounds at her home on Titus Rd. in the town of Westfield, just north of the village of Sherman.
The two stand accused of showing up at Whitaker’s home during the early morning of Aug. 20. Conklin hid out of sight while Sanford knocked on her door and when she answered, he claimed that his car had broken down. When Whitaker let him use her cell phone, Conklin is accused of coming out of his hiding spot and shooting Whitaker in the Torso. She was also shot a second time in the leg. Authorities also accuse Sanford of then stabbing Whitaker in the neck. After leaving Whitaker for dead and making off with her credit cards and vehicle, the two men returned to Erie. They were arrested in Erie two days later following an investigation.
Both Conklin and Sanford had previous run-ins with the law. Conklin has been arrested in the past for burglary charges, while Sanford is a convicted sex offender, convicted of statutory sexual assault in 2012.
According to Friday’s article, a preliminary hearing for the federal charges has been scheduled for Sept. 9.