Brandie Marie Beiseigel Obituary, Honey Brook Woman & Police Chief Injured During Traffic Stop as Driver Fled the Scene

2023 04 10 17.52.19 48b286a8ad4f

Brandie Marie Beiseigel Obituary, Honey Brook Woman & Police Chief Injured During Traffic Stop as Driver Fled the Scene

A Berks County man is in Chester County Prison and a Honey Brook woman is dead following an incident in which a routine traffic stop turned perilous as the driver fled the scene and ran over both his passenger and the police officer who had detained him, according to authorities.

State police said troopers had arrested John Lewis Knecht Jr. at his home outside Reading after finding him hiding in an attic crawl space Sunday morning, about about eight hours after the deadly incident in Honey Brook, a borough in the northwest part of the county.

Knecht, 57, whose has a long criminal history in Chester and Berks counties on drug and weapons charges, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault on a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon, flight to avoid apprehension, escape and resisting arrest, among other charges.

He was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Albert Iacocca of Kennett Square late Sunday and ordered held without bail because of the nature of the charges and the risk he would try to flee, according to court documents.

Killed in the incident was Brandie Marie Beiseigel, 36, of Honey Brook, a longtime employee of Jerry’s Pizza Pie, a restaurant in the heart of the borough of 2,000 residents. A manager at the shop confirmed that she had worked there for many years, but declined to speak about her passing.

“I’m sorry. It was a shame,” the man, who did not give his name, said Monday.

The episode also left the borough’s police chief, Calvin Wilson, injured after he was run over by the pickup Knecht was driving as he roared from the scene of the traffic stop. State police said he had sustained moderate injuries. Comment from Honey Brook officials, including Mayor Matt Halvorsen, was not forthcoming Monday.

According to an arrest affidavit filed by state Trooper John Pisker, the incident began around 1 a.m. Sunday when Wilson — who has served as head of the small borough police force since 2020 — was on routine patrol. He spotted a truck parked at the US Gas station on Horseshoe Pike and, suspecting that criminal activity might be taking place, pulled over and watched from across the street.

Checking the license plates, he learned that there were active warrants for the vehicle’s owner. As he watched, he saw the vehicle, a 2003 Toyota Tacoma, pull away from the gas station. What he did not know is that the driver of the Toyota, identified as Knecht, saw his patrol vehicle and began making plans to flee, knowing that he had an active arrest warrant for a probation violation he was sure he would spend time in prison for.

Knecht and Beiseigel, who was a passenger in the truck’s front seat, pulled out of the gas station and drove east on Horseshoe Pike, also known as Route 322. Within less than a minute, they were pulled over by Wilson.

In his statement to investigators, Wilson said that he first approached the passenger side of the truck and immediately recognized Beisiegel from her work at the pizza parlor. He also recognized Knecht from past encounters.

Wilson said Knecht gave him an expired driver’s license, and that when he went to check it, found that Knecht was wanted on a 2021 warrant. He re-approached the car, this time from the driver’s side, opened the door, and attempted to place Knecht in handcuffs, getting the cuffs on one wrist.

When Knecht asked Wilson is he could have a minute before surrendering, he put the car in drive and sped from the scene at what Wilson said was a high rate of speed. As Wilson continued to hold onto the handcuffs, he was dragged by the truck as it drove away, eventually letting go. When he did, the rear wheels of the truck ran over his right side.

As he called police radio to report what had happened and request assistance, Wilson said he looked to the side and saw a woman’s body, Beiseigel, lying in the roadway. He found her unconscious and barely breathing. She had sustained serious injuries and was pronounced dead after being taken to Paoli Hospital by Honey Brook Elverson Ambulance.

Investigators from the state police responded to the scene, and began searching for Knecht. They first went to the house on Birdell Road where the Toyota was registered, and there found Wilson’s handcuffs in the backyard near a hot tub. The owner of the truck, which was parked in the driveway, told police that he knew Knecht and frequently let him use the truck. He was not found there, however.

Pisker said he was able to track Knecht’s residence to a house on Friedensburg Road in Lower Alsace, Berks County. There, troopers spoke with both the owner of the house and Knecht’s girlfriend around 8:50 a.m. His girlfriend told the troopers that he must be in the house since his boots and cellphone were in a bedroom.

According to the affidavit, Knecht was eventually located in a hidden attic crawlspace. After initially refusing police orders to come out, Knecht was taken into custody after a brief struggle.

When he was interviewed later that day, Knecht confirmed much of what Wilson had said happened during the traffic stop, including that he had sped from the scene with handcuffs on.

But he also said that he had told Beiseigel that he planned to try to flee, and gave her the option of getting out of the truck before he did. He said that when he hit the gas and drove away dragging Wilson behind him, he thought that Beisiegel had already gotten out of the truck cab.

But what investigators saw on the mobile video recorder in Wilson’s patrol car was the passenger-side door opening, Beiseigel starting to exit, and then being run over by the Toyota as it sped away.

Knecht claimed that he did not know the truck had run over either victim.

He is awaiting a preliminary hearing before Senior Magisterial District Judge William Kraut at 9 a.m. April 17.

The state police were assisted by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, Honey Brook Borough Police Department, West Brandywine Township Police Department, East Brandywine Township Police Department, Parkesburg Borough Police Department, West Caln Township Police Department, Valley Township Police Department, Caln Township Police Department, West Chester University K-9, Honey Brook Fire Company, Honey Brook Elverson EMS, Wagontown Fire Company, Westwood EMS, and Tower Health EMS.

Anyone who may have information relative to this investigation is asked to contact the Criminal Investigation Unit at the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop J, Embreeville Station at 610-486-6280.

Feel free to leave a message of condolences and prayers for the family and friends of the deceased in the comments section as it will go a long way for them during this difficult time.

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