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Cousin Charged with Fatal Stabbing, Shooting of Croydon Girl, 14

April 6, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Matthew D. Weintraub, 215.348.6344, mdweintraub@buckscounty.org      

Colin Haag(3) Autumn Bartle2_edited
       Colin Haag III                             Autumn Bartle

A Bristol Township man was charged today with killing his 14-year-old cousin by stabbing her repeatedly and shooting her in the head last week inside the home where both resided.

Colin Haag III, 20, was arraigned this afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Robert W. Wagner Jr. on an array of charges, including criminal homicide, in the brutal slaying of Autumn Bartle.

Wagner ordered Haag held without bail in the Bucks County Correctional Facility pending a preliminary hearing, tentatively scheduled for April 11.

At a news conference after the arraignment, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said he knew of no motive for the murder.

“We hope to have that answer. We’ll continue to work on getting that answer,” Weintraub said. “But sometimes, as we stand here in this case, you look into the face of a killer and you don’t get answers. You see only darkness.”

The girl died Monday morning at St. Christopher’s Hospital in Philadelphia, three days after her mother came home to find her, unconscious and bleeding, on the living room floor of their home.

Haag, who lived in the basement of the house on Sycamore Avenue in the Croydon section of Bristol Township, was nowhere to be found when the victim’s mother, Tiffany Larison, summoned police around 6:40 p.m. on Good Friday.

An autopsy conducted Tuesday determined that the teen died from a gunshot wound to the head and multiple stab wounds. She had been stabbed more than 80 times, the examination found.

Haag was charged with killing her after ballistics tests on Wednesday determined that the fatal bullet was fired from a gun he was carrying three hours after the attack, according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the charges. 

Officers at the murder scene found “copious” amounts of blood in the bathroom, and lesser amounts on bedding and on walls throughout the house, the affidavit stated.

The bathroom, in particular, bore evidence of a desperate struggle.

Bloody handprints on the outside trim of the bathroom window made it “apparent that Autumn Bartle, with bloodied hands, had attempted to climb out of the window and escape, but was unsuccessful,” the affidavit said.

Two bloody handprints on the inside of the bathroom window indicated “that someone had grabbed the window sash and closed and locked it,” the affidavit said. “It appeared that Autumn Bartle had been confined to the bathroom area when she was brutally stabbed numerous times.”

Her father, Michael Bartle Jr., came home soon after police arrived. He told officers that he kept two handguns in his attic bedroom, the affidavit said. Both were missing.

After investigators distributed Haag’s description and photo to surrounding jurisdictions, Bensalem police located him walking with a backpack along State Road shortly before 10 p.m., the affidavit said.

Haag ran as the officers approached, the affidavit said, and shot himself in the throat when they walked toward him again. Police took cover, thinking they might be under fire, while Haag ran behind a building at 2500 State Road, the affidavit said.

Additional officers arrived and helped subdue Haag, finding him with one of Michael Bartle’s missing guns in his pocket and the other in his backpack, the affidavit said. “The defendant stated that he shot himself because he didn’t want to go to jail,” the document said.

Also in Haag’s backpack was a spiral notebook with blood matching Autumn Bartle’s DNA, the affidavit said, and a blood-marked notation on the last page stating, “this is the last of Slim that’s all you get it’s the end 4 me.”

After Tuesday’s autopsy, the bullet removed from Autumn Bartle’s brain was sent to the Montgomery County Firearms and Ballistics Unit for analysis. The analysis determined that the bullet was fired by a semiautomatic Smith and Wesson Bodyguard .380 pistol that had been stolen from Michael Bartle’s room, the affidavit said.

Haag was treated over the weekend at Jefferson Hospital Philadelphia for his gunshot wound, after which he was charged on Monday with stealing the two guns. He had been held since then at the Bucks County Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000 cash bail.

Today, Haag was charged with additional crimes including criminal homicide, aggravated assault, burglary, kidnapping, unlawful restraint of a minor, receiving stolen property, carrying a firearm without a license, and possessing an instrument of crime.

After her death, the victim’s family donated the victim’s organs for others to live, Weintraub said.

“Even in death, Autumn and her mom and her dad gave others the gift of life,” he said. “That was a very courageous decision.”

Weintraub also urged gun owners to store their weapons safely by using gun locks. He emphasized that no one but Haag was to blame for Autumn Bartle’s death, but said the killer might not have been able to shoot her had gun locks been used on the firearms in the house.

The case has been assigned for prosecution to Deputy District Attorneys Jennifer M. Schorn and Edward Louka.

The investigation was conducted by the Bristol Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives, with assistance from the Bensalem Township Police Department and the Montgomery County Detectives. Weintraub praised the work of all, saying the case has been “meticulously investigated” from the outset.

“It’s the essence of teamwork to have two local departments and two county departments all working together toward one goal,” he said, “and that is to bring justice for Autumn.”

Criminal charges are allegations subject to proof in court. The defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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