CLEARFIELD – The trial got under way Tuesday in Clearfield County Court for one of the men accused in the brutal 2017 murder of Chase Anderson, 19, of Curwensville.
Anderson was reported missing by his mother Aug. 22, 2017 and investigators learned Kenja K. Tew, now 26, had made comments that Anderson “wasn’t coming back alive or at all.”
Tew allegedly confessed his involvement in Anderson’s murder to state police when he was taken into custody in an unrelated case and identified others involved, including Denny S. Bailey, now 41.
On Aug. 30, 2017, Tew led state police to burned and decomposing remains in a remote, wooded area of Pike Township. The remains were later identified by dental records as Anderson.
In interviews with investigators, Tew and eventually Bailey both said they lured Anderson to the area to assault and scare him.
Tew alleged Bailey cut Anderson’s throat before burning his body while Bailey claimed that Tew stabbed Anderson before dousing him with gas and setting his body on fire.
Bailey is now standing trial on charges of criminal homicide, assault, kidnap to inflict terror, conspiracy and numerous other related offenses.
Anderson’s mother, Angela, testified first, saying her son lived at home until July of 2017 when she encouraged him to move out, find his own place and a job.
She said he started working for Bailey and though he lived with Tew, he maintained regular contact with her. After an extended period of no contact, she tried calling and messaging him.
When she got no answer, she began contacting his friends and other family members and when she found out they also hadn’t seen or heard from him, Angela went to police.
Mark Kelly, current Curwensville police sergeant, testified that Anderson’s mother came to his department Aug. 22, 2017. She reported her son as having been missing since Aug. 11, 2017.
He had her complete a missing person declaration and entered the information into the Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Network and National Crime Information Center databases.
He also issued a BOLO, or be-on-the-look-out alert, to Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township police as well as state police.
Kelly said he received information from multiple witnesses that made him believe the case was more than a missing person and on Aug. 29, 2017 requested assistance from state police.
The next day, Trooper David Patrick said he was assigned to investigate Anderson’s disappearance and after a police interview, Tew directed a detail of state troopers to Anderson’s body.
“There were no identifiable features,” he told jurors. “The body had been burned, was exposed to the elements for a couple weeks by then and was decomposing.”
In addition to a forensic science unit, Patrick said investigators requested assistance from Dr. Dennis Dirkmaat, a forensic anthropology expert, and his team from Mercyhurst College.
Jurors were also shown photos and a video of the trail off Walker Road that led to the crime scene, and on Tuesday afternoon, they heard the first in a series of police interviews with Bailey.
In an interview Sept. 15, 2017, Bailey told Patrick and Sgt. Adam Gibson that he wanted to “set the record straight” because a lot had been said that just wasn’t true.
He said Chantell R. Demi, his girlfriend at the time, had “zero” knowledge of Anderson’s disappearance and death. “She didn’t plan, conspire, pick a spot … that girl didn’t do a damn thing.”
Bailey went on to say that Anderson was a “good kid” and he had no “ill will” towards him, denying he had any involvement in his disappearance or murder.
“That’s the truth,” he told troopers. “I know you guys don’t believe me and I don’t care.” He said if charged, he’d take the case all the way to trial and he wanted the interview played for jurors.
“I’ve said from the get-go: ‘I didn’t kill Chase,’ and neither did Chantel … I know she didn’t because she was with me and I had nothing to do with it.”
Bailey, however, said he knew state police were going to “make this my case,” he had been “sick to death” over it and knew he was [expletive].”
The troopers confronted Bailey about his story conflicting with a previous statement he had made in which he admitted to having been involved in the murder.
He said he made that statement when he was angry at Demi for bringing his name into it and just regurgitating information he learned from police, and when asked who should be charged for Anderson’s death, he said Tew.
When Patrick confronted him about why he would do that, Bailey immediately told Patrick and Gibson: “We’re done,” and that he wanted to speak with his attorney.
The trial is being prosecuted by District Attorney Ryan Sayers and First Assistant District Attorney Leanne Nedza. Bailey is represented by defense attorney Joe Ryan.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Courtroom No. 1 before President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman, and is scheduled to run through Nov. 5.