PITTSBURGH — A man accused of kidnapping his wife while he was under home confinement on charges he beat and abducted her two months ago has been declared brain dead following a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Wednesday.
The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said Wednesday that it had been “advised of the brain death” of Kevin Ewing, 47, and an autopsy was pending as Ewing remained on a ventilator until a decision about organ donation was made.
Ewing was in an undisclosed hospital after shooting himself in a West Finley Township barn, officials said. His 48-year-old wife, Tierne Ewing, was found shot to death in the same barn after state troopers surrounded it, ending a daylong manhunt Tuesday.
Ewing abducted his wife at gunpoint from his mother’s home, also in West Finley, near the West Virginia border, at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, police said. Her car was found near a wooded area eight hours later, prompting a search that ended around 9 p.m. when police surrounded the nearby barn.
Tierne Ewing’s parents have questioned the way authorities handled charges against Kevin Ewing in the earlier case.
Tierne Ewing told police her husband beat and pistol-whipped her, spat on her, kept her hands tied with wire or duct tape and imprisoned in their home, often with a gun to her head from June 26 to July 8. Kevin Ewing also branded her legs with a piece of hot metal, according to a criminal complaint.
Tierne Ewing had staples — a home remedy — closing a cut on her head that she told police was the result of her husband hitting her with a wooden gun stock.
She escaped when her husband forced her into a credit union to withdraw money, only to tell tellers of her ordeal and they called police.
Ewing unexpectedly posted $100,000 bond on July 11, so a prosecutor asked a judge to put him back in jail citing an unspecified history of domestic abuse and past injuries to his wife, Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone said.
The judge refused but did order Kevin Ewing confined to his mother’s home, without weapons, and ordered him to have no contact with his wife. He was also made to wear an ankle bracelet that would alert authorities if he left the home.
Despite the court order, his wife had been living in an apartment in his mother’s home for several days before she was abducted this week, investigators said. The mother, Rose Riggle, told police that her daughter-in-law had been visiting him at her house for weeks.
Hours before Ewing abducted his wife, Riggle heard them arguing then saw him with a black revolver that belonged to her ex-husband, investigators said.
Riggle told police that her son made his wife pack bags containing food and clothes and forced her to leave the house with him. When Riggle tried to intervene, her son pushed her down, the affidavit said.
He then cut off his electronic ankle bracelet and handed it to his mother before leaving, she told police.
Riggle, reached at home Wednesday by The Associated Press, said she was aware of the court-ordered restrictions her son faced, but she hung up when questioned about them.
Tierne Ewing’s father told reporters on Tuesday that Kevin Ewing had harmed his daughter repeatedly in the 38 years the couple knew each other.
“She was scared to death of him. He threatened her all the time, and he beat her up several times,” Richard Kopko said after authorities told him his daughter was dead.
Online court records show Kevin Ewing pleaded guilty to simple assault and spent more than seven months in jail for an April 2001 attack on his wife.
“She told me years ago, ‘Dad, if you can’t ever find me, I’ll be buried on his dad’s farm,'” Kopko said. (The barn where the couple was found wasn’t on the father’s farm.)
Kopko and his wife didn’t answer repeated phone calls on Wednesday.