Suspect accused of killing man, hiding body in trunk, to go on trial in Franklin County




  • In US
  • 2022-10-07 09:02:37Z
  • By Chambersburg Public Opinion

A Chambersburg man's gunshot-riddled body was found stuffed in the trunk of his own car in Roxbury almost three years ago. The Orrstown man charged with his murder is scheduled to go on trial next week in Franklin County.

Justin Hockenberry, 39, will be tried for first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in the death of 37-year-old Demetrios "Jimmy" Kalathas, according to court records. He is also charged with possession of a controlled substance and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.

The trial is scheduled to begin Monday and could continue through Oct. 21. Hockenberry will be tried by President Judge Shawn Meyers in courtroom one of the Franklin County Judicial Center in Chambersburg.

How was Kalathas' body found?

Kalathas, a Chambersburg Area Senior High School Class of 2000 graduate and a father of two, was reported missing on Nov. 15, 2019. It was later revealed that he died four days earlier, on Nov. 11.

Police went to talk to Hockenberry after a friend of Kalathas reported the victim was to stop by Hockenberry's home to pick up money he was owed before going on vacation.

Hockenberry told police on Nov. 16 that Kalathas never arrived despite sending a text that he was 10 minutes away, according to court documents.

Demetrios \"Jimmy\" Kalathas
Demetrios \"Jimmy\" Kalathas  

The next day, a relative told police Hockenberry told him he used a 12-gauge shotgun to kill someone and left the body in the trunk of the victim's car in the parking lot of the Lurgan Township Lion's Club in Roxbury, according to court documents. The relative said he went to police after going to the Lion's Club parking lot and seeing a white Lincoln Town Car parked there. Kalathas was known to drive that type of vehicle.

Police went to the parking lot after talking to the relative. Troopers broke a window to get inside and found a bloody body in the trunk, according to court documents. A wallet containing Kalathas' identification was found nearby.

Previous reporting:Murder suspect: 'Something in his head' made him shoot Chambersburg man to death

What did Hockenerry say happened?

Hockenberry was arrested a few days later after police found him walking along a road in Hopewell Township, Cumberland County. He had been hiding out since learning police may be on to him, according to court documents.

He eventually admitted to killing Kalathas and attempting to hide his body, according to court documents.

Hockenberry told police Kalathas arrived at his home on Nov. 11 and they both fired several rounds from Hockenberry's shotgun near a pond on the property.

The suspect said he "suddenly got 'something in his head' which he was unable to explain," and he fired multiple rounds at Kalathas, police wrote in court documents.

He described loading the body into the trunk of Kalathas' car, then driving it to the rear parking lot of the Lion's Club on Cumberland Highway, and leaving it there. He said he tossed Kalathas' wallet and phone in a creek and left the shotgun between cinder blocks at a baseball field.

More:Workers 'kicked, stomped and beat turkeys' at central PA farms, police say

It is believed the $800 Hockenberry owed to Kalathas was for drugs, as the victim was allegedly involved in drug dealing and drugs were later found at Hockenberry's home, according to court documents.

Police previously executed a search warrant at Hockenberry's home that turned up evidence consistent with his story, including seven expended 12-gauge shotgun shells and an area of blood outside the home. They also found two beaded bracelets, which a person close with Kalathas confirmed were the victim's.

Marijuana, cocaine and a variety of drug-related materials were also found, police said.

Police also found a gray bag containing a pair of jeans, socks, sneakers and a hat in a dumpster behind Greenvillage Drive-in Family Restaurant, where Hockenberry worked, according to court documents. Two of Hockenberry's neighbors also reported hearing gunshots.

Hockenberry has been in Franklin County Jail since his arrest in November 2019, according to online court records.

Amber South can be reached at asouth@publicopinionnews.com.

This article originally appeared on Chambersburg Public Opinion: Franklin County man to be tried in death of Demetrios Kalathas

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