WILLIAMSPORT – His wife’s reluctance to have sex was the motive for a Williamsport man to pay to have her killed in 2018, a prosecutor says.
Edward Heck, 51, had reached the breaking point, Lycoming County first assistant district attorney Martin Wade theorized Wednesday during a court proceeding.
They slept in separate bedrooms and sexual frustration led to heightened anger and a desire to punish her, he said.
To obtain a meaningful relationship Heck had to eliminate his wife, Wade said.
Heck is accused of paying Kenneth Wayne Smith, 35, of Nanty Glo, to kill his wife Sonja Rowe Heck, 49, on Aug. 16, 2018. He is facing the death penalty if found guilty.
Smith has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and related charges and is serving a life prison sentence. He said Heck paid him $10,000 to kill his wife.
Defense attorney E.J. Rymsza disagreed with Wade’s assessment of the Hecks’ relationship contending it was good and his client loved his wife.
He admitted his client was active on online dating sites and engaged in fantasies but argued there was no infidelity.
The reason for the court hearing was to argue a defense motion to preclude from the trial evidence that Wade said supports the allegation Heck was cheating on his wife.
That evidence includes pictures that Heck’s stepdaughter, Emily Rowe, took after he arranged for a woman to meet with him shortly before the killing. She set him up, Rymsza claimed.
The hearing came to a quick end after Judge Marc F. Lovecchio asked Wade why he needed that evidence since he had statements from Smith.
The prosecutor stopped his argument against Rymsza’s motion, saying he felt confident the alleged cheating would come out at the trial by other means.
When Smith pleaded guilty in January he admitted hitting Sonja Heck twice on the head with a hammer and then slashing her throat.
The two men began conversing on social media about 18 months before the murder, Williamsport Detective Edward Lucas testified at their preliminary hearing.
It was during their exchanges on a pornographic website that Smith indicated he had a fetish to kill someone. Heck remarked, “How about my wife?” according to the investigator who is now retired.
Lucas gave this summary of the crime:
Heck transported Smith to his home in the 2500 block of Linn Street that Aug. 15 and he stayed in the cellar.
Heck texted him about 1:50 a.m. saying “time has come” and Smith went upstairs to a bedroom and killed her. Rowe found the body a day later.
Heck and Smith drove to Lebanon, Indiana, where they were arrested. Smith was released but arrested later in Muskegon, Michigan.
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