Arrest made in fatal shooting at Nockamixon State Park
Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub today announced an arrest in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Jason Albert Kutt at Nockamixon State Park on Oct. 24, 2020.
Kenneth Troy Heller, 52, of Warminster, was charged with criminal homicide, recklessly endangering another person, possession of an instrument of crime, possession of a prohibited offensive weapon and two hunting law violations.
Heller surrendered to authorities Wednesday and was arraigned by District Judge Gary Gambardella who sent him to Bucks County Correctional Facility without bail. Heller waived his preliminary hearing and his next scheduled court date is his formal arraignment in April, which he also agreed to waive.
During a news conference to announce the arrest, Weintraub said Heller has agreed to plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and the remaining charges on his first scheduled trial listing.
“Clearly this isn’t a perfect ending,” he said. “Perfect would mean we have Jason back. But that’s just not how real life works, that’s not how criminal justice works, so this isn’t even really a happy ending, but it is a fair and a just and a final ending.”
Kutt, of Sellersville, had been sitting with his girlfriend at the edge of the lake, waiting for the sun to set, when he was shot once in the back of the head, around 5:15 p.m. on Oct. 24. Kutt was pronounced dead two days later.
The shooting happened near the Old Ridge Road access to the state park, across from the marina at Lake Nockamixon.
Kutt's girlfriend (name withheld due to minor status and privacy concerns) told authorities she saw a man in an orange vest, which she described as hunting clothing, standing behind a yellow gate at Old Ridge Road, looking in their direction. The investigation found that the distance from that gate to where Kutt and his girlfriend were sitting was 550 feet away.
For more than two months, Bucks County detectives Timothy Campbell and Michael Walp worked tirelessly on the case, tracking down three vehicles seen at the state park the day of the shooting. One of those vehicles, belonged to Heller.
Detectives interviewed Heller’s co-workers who said he did not report to work the Monday after the shooting and was visibly “shook up” when returned on Tuesday. The co-workers also told detectives that shortly after the shooting Heller gave away guns, ammunition and hunting gear.
Detectives searched Heller’s vehicle and home on Dec. 10, finding a .17-caliber Marlin rifle, ammunition for the rifle and an orange hunting vest with a 2020 hunting license issued to Kenneth Heller affixed to the back of the vest. Detectives also found metal knuckles with a dagger attached.
On Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020, Bucks County detectives met with Heller, accompanied with his attorney, and he admitted to firing his .17-caliber Marlin rifle – the one located during the Dec. 10 search – from the area of the gate on Old Ridge Road, shortly after 5 p.m. and that the projectile from his rifle struck and killed the victim, according to a criminal complaint.
Heller also admitted that he made no attempts to inform authorities that he took the fatal shot, according to the complaint.
Weintraub commended the work of county detectives and several first responders who assisted in the investigation, search and initial response to the shooting.
Those assisting Bucks County detectives in this case were Pennsylvania State Police; Pennsylvania Game Commission; Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR); Montgomery County Detectives; Bedminster Township Police Department; Central Bucks Special Response Crime Scene Team; Dublin Borough Police Department; Montgomery Township Police Department; Pennridge Regional Police Department; Perkasie Borough Police Department; Quakertown Borough Police Department; Tinicum Township Police Department; Warminster Township Police Department; Upper Bucks Regional EMS; Point Pleasant-Plumsteadville EMS; Ottsville Fire Company; and the Bucks County Coroner's Office.
The case has been assigned for prosecution to Deputy District Attorney Robert D. James and Assistant District Attorney Ed Furman.
Media Contact: Manuel Gamiz Jr., 215.348.6298, email@example.com