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‘I killed that lady,’ boy tells trooper after allegedly punching 90-year-old to death

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DAMASCUS TOWNSHIP, Penn. —”I killed that lady,” the 10-year-old boy told a Pennsylvania state trooper, after a 90-year-old woman was found dead in the home of the boy’s grandfather.

Tristen Kurilla, a fifth grader, made the chilling confession Saturday, police said, after his mother brought him to the Pennsylvania State Police Barracks in Honesdale, about 140 miles north of Philadelphia.

Now, Kurilla is being held at the Wayne County Correctional Facility and charged as an adult with criminal homicide, the Wayne County district attorney’s office said. The boy is separated from adult offenders and is being constantly supervised, CNN affiliate WBRE reported.

The boy admitted to grabbing a wooden cane, holding it against 90-year-old Helen Novak’s throat for several seconds and punching her in the throat and stomach, according to the police affidavit.

WNEP reports that Kurilla told police he was angry at Novak because she had yelled at him when he entered her room. He said he wanted to ask her a question.

Were you trying to kill her? the trooper asked the boy.

PD: Boy, 10, Kills Woman, 90, for Yelling at Him

The boy was ordered to be held without bail after his arraignment and is set to appear in court October 22.

Bernie Brown, his lawyer, said he was petitioning the court to get the fifth-grade Damascus Elementary School student out of jail, WBRE reported.

“Tristen really kind of doesn’t have an idea of what is going on,” Brown told the station.

Brown added, “Jail is still jail, no matter what part of the facility you are in.”

Brown also can petition a judge to transfer the case to juvenile court.

Janine Edwards, Wayne County district attorney, said Pennsylvania law made it mandatory “that a criminal homicide charge be first directly filed in adult court by the prosecutor regardless of the age of the perpetrator,” WBRE reported.

PD: Boy, 10, Kills Woman, 90, for Yelling at Him

“It is not a choice I made,” she told the station, adding that a juvenile detention center will not accept a child charged with homicide. “It’s not a choice the warden made. It’s not a choice Pennsylvania State Police made.”

The age of the defendant was unusual, she told the station.

Police were initially called to the home of Kurilla’s grandfather, Anthony Virbitsky, in Damascus Township on Saturday morning with a report that an elderly woman had died there, the affidavit said. Virbitsky was the woman’s caretaker, authorities said.

The county coroner responded to the home, found Novak’s body and transported it to the morgue, the affidavit stated.

A few hours later, the boy’s mother, Martha Virbitsky, appeared at the state police post with her son and told Trooper John Decker that the boy had confessed to killing Novak, the affidavit said.

The boy’s mother told police that she “has had a lot of trouble with Tristen and that he has some mental difficulties” and had been violent in the past, the affidavit said.

Kurilla had told his grandfather that Novak was bleeding from the mouth, but denied having done anything to her, Decker wrote in the affidavit.

PD: Boy, 10, Kills Woman, 90, for Yelling at Him

Anthony Virbitsky told police he checked on Novak but found no blood, although she was breathing heavily. He asked her if she wanted to go to a hospital, the affidavit said, but she refused. When he went to check on her less than an hour later, she was dead, Virbitsky told police, and then his grandson confessed that he had hit her.

An autopsy performed Monday discovered “blunt force trauma to Novak’s neck” and her death was ruled a homicide, the district attorney’s statement said.

Some residents in Damascus Township took issue with locking up the boy in the county jail.

“I know they see a lot of things but I don’t think that they understand what they’re doing,” Kristy Tirney told WBRE. “I don’t know.”


  • Kim

    You do the crime, you do the time. If my son had done something as horrible as this, I would still expect justice be served for the victim. The mother should have addressed the boy’s anger issues a long time ago but you aren’t allowed to discipline your kids anymore because of the politically correct crowd always wanting to stick their noses where it doesn’t belong. A good butt whooping here and there growing up never hurt anybody and if you ask the majority of the public, they would probably admit that they had their tails handed to them a time or two. Parents need to get back in control of their children like it used to be!

    • Dustin Cavanaugh

      All I see kim is you saying “f**k science” corporal punishment has been proven ineffective and as a contributing factor to mental issues. The only exception being light (non-painful) spanking of younger children as they do not have the understanding older children have. How do you know she hadn’t addressed his anger issues? Why don’t we speak on the state of the laughable mental health system? Parents back then didn’t have any more control than they do now, what you are failing to understand is that news travels faster thanks to the Internet. You are spreading misinformation, here is me correcting you. “A good butt whooping here and there growing up never hurt anybody” scientific evidence suggests otherwise.

  • Rick

    If somebody would have gave his little bad a$$ a spanking while growing up, maybe he wouldn’t be killing people at age 10. Little bad a$$!!!

  • Lawrence

    Dustin you living in a fantasy land. I agree with Kim and Rick. I got my a$$ whipped and I turned out fine. Now people going to say he has problems, parents divorced blah blah blah. Phuck that beat his little demon a$$!!!! He knew what he was doing!!!

  • Ms. Richmond

    Pam I see that you miss taking your medcine. Why are you going off the deep end? Are you related to this woman? You got issues or is this your normal state of mind. I encourage you to get a EEG

  • Tina Taylor

    even if he is charged as an adult, for his own protection, should be placed in juvenile protection. he could be raped and or killed where he is. adult inmates may not look out for him- he could be corrupted to the point that he will not function in society if later released… he definitely needs counseling for anger issues but at an appropriate level no matter what.

  • Mary Olson

    Of course we can discuss the “age of reasoning” which means at his age, he has reached the age of where he know right from wrong (although we don’t know how he was raised). In any case, he should be in a mental lockdown facility for children where he can get the help he needs according to his developmental stage in life. Hopefully the right psychiatrists, social workers, and other people involved can turn him around. It is so sad to see children having the capability to kill somebody.

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