CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — New details were released surrounding the homicide of an Altoona man who was hired by his alleged killer for excavation work.
Austin Kline, 22, of South Fork, was arrested on Friday, May 26 after state police found 55-year-old Richard Morgan dead in Kline’s garage during a search of his home, according to a criminal complaint.
Morgan was reported missing on Thursday by his son, who claimed he was last seen and known to be with Kline earlier that day. According to the complaint, Morgan was hired by Kline to assist him with excavation work that Morgan’s son arranged with Kline through Facebook.
State police noted in court documents, Morgan was reported to have gone to Kline’s home along Lake Street in South Fork for the job.
After completing the work, Kline allegedly asked Morgan to look at a few other potential jobs he wanted done in Cambria and Blair County. According to state police, this included a location along McCarthy Lane in Portage.
Morgan’s son provided troopers with screenshots of his messages with Kline that involved Kline and Morgan looking at properties for potential work, according to the complaint.
During an investigation, state police obtained location data for Morgan’s cell phone that showed his device was shut off at 4:21 p.m.
Shortly before being turned off, troopers said Morgan’s phone showed a location 1.02 miles southeast of a cell tower along Munster Road in Portage which is in the proximity of McCarthy Lane. The cell tower ping was about an hour before Kline claimed he had dropped Morgan off at his home at 5:30 p.m.
Kline later gave state police permission to search his South Fork home. When speaking with Kline, troopers noticed an injury to his left hand they believed was recent and could have been caused by a physical altercation.
According to the complaint, a state police K9 unit searched Kline’s home and a dog certified to detect human remains alerted the handler on several areas of the property. Troopers said the K9 handler secured the property after finding stains on the threshold of a garage door that appeared to be blood.
After a search warrant was executed at Kline’s home on Friday, state police found Morgan’s body inside the wood-frame garage, according to the complaint. Troopers said a landscape tamper was also found in a debris pile next to the garage that appeared to have blood and hair on it.
According to the Cambria County Coroner’s Office, an autopsy showed Morgan was shot multiple times and assaulted as he suffered from blunt force trauma. State police noted in court documents a box of 380 caliber ammunition was found in Kline’s living room.
When Kline was questioned by troopers, he allegedly admitted to shooting Morgan multiple times and hitting him with a blunt object, according to the complaint.
Kline was denied bail by district judge Michael Zungali and remains in the Cambria County Prison. He’s charged with criminal homicide, felony aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 8.