Matthew Wallenstein: Solving a Murder

By December 18, 2020 No Comments

mark tranquilli, Pittsburgh

By Matthew Wallenstein
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer

“I knew Britney through work. We worked in a factory together. After maybe six months of knowing her I realized that I had worked once with her husband at another job. Ryan, a coworker, told me Britney and her husband Armando were intending to ask me to join their marriage, they were having problems and looking for a third person. He told me to be prepared. That’s when I sort of took a step back from being friends with her. I didn’t want to give her the wrong idea. I also recognized that her husband was insane. People who are actually into BDSM and kink culture don’t say things to you like ‘I’m a dark and twisted person and you wouldn’t understand.’

“After I stepped back she noticed and started doing things like Venmoing me money. It would always be right after I made a social media post of lingerie, looking for someone to buy it for me. It would be for the exact amount of the lingerie. She would message me weekly, saying affirming things about my body.

“Jon was an engineer at the place where we worked. Whenever he would come onto the floor to work on the assembly machines — like, to make them better, or to improve them — Brittney was always the one he would talk to ‘cuz she had worked there for five or six years. So she had a pretty good handle on things.

“They worked on engineering projects together. They had only been talking for like two weeks, she explained that she was still married. It wasn’t a happy marriage. Jon said ‘Well maybe we could get to know each other.’ She told him her husband was a crazy person.

“They only hung out, like, maybe two hours total over those weeks, kissed once, and he was decapitated on Saturday night.”

“How did the husband find out about him?”

“He just picked up Britney’s phone and started going through it. He would monitor her phone regularly. It seemed like he was okay with her talking to me but I think that was because of the sex thing they had planned.

“He had access to her Facebook. There were times she would delete it for months because she just wouldn’t want him going through it.

“A lot of times she and I would keep our conversations online very limited in almost like code. Recently, I went back through all the conversations we had over the years. I could see she went through the decline of her mental health and she just basically gave up on life. And then this whole thing happened.

“Armando started beating her. It got real bad. He put a gun in her mouth. The kid, she was 9, she walked in on it. Anyway Jon got a text from Britney’s phone saying they should meet up at a park.

“Armando parked the car so that when Jon drove in he would see her sitting there in it. He went and hid in the bushes then jumped him. Britney was telling him to stop. So when Armando was beating him he was yelling at her and pushing her away. Britney was crying, he put the gun in her hands and told her to shoot him. She said no. He told her to step on his throat, she was scared. She did it, but wasn’t really applying pressure. Then they got him into the back seat and that’s when Armando had Britney cut his wrists. He wouldn’t die and kept asking ‘Why are you doing this?’ Armando told Britney to get in the front seat of the car and then he shot him three times.”

“In the car? Then what?” I asked.

“Brittney drove up north with the body and Armando drove a different car. There was a point where he went into a store to buy things for the body burial. He used her card because he didn’t even have his own bank account.

“They went up to the woods, way up to the top of the state which is a really unpopulated area. And he made her cut the head off the body with a hatchet while he puked in the back. You can shoot this guy and make all this terrible stuff happen but you can’t do the real— you’re making your wife do it?

“She buried the head. They wrapped the body in a tarp and dragged it up to a little creek. I guess some hunters called the Fish and Game people.

“The Fish and Game was able to follow the drag marks. They could see them from the car to the creek.

“So what happened that made you suspicious of anything? How did you find this stuff out at all?” I asked.

“I was in Pittsburgh, bored as shit. I had just moved here. It was right before my birthday. Jon went missing on my mom’s birthday. The only information was that he intended to go hiking the next day. His cell phone last pinged in downtown Jaffrey. This was all in the posts people put up to try to find him that.

“Not a lot of people knew where Brittney lived and from where his phone was pinged there was no reason for him to be down there. All there was was a bar that closed because they’re putting a Rotary there.

“At first I thought it was going to be a hate crime because Jon was super feminine and I thought maybe if the bars were open maybe some homophobic redneck had beat him but A) that’s past bar hours and B) the bar was closed.

“That Saturday was when the phone pinged and then Sunday or Monday was when that report was circulating and I saw that Brittney didn’t go to work on Monday and that was when I was like, ‘they’re together, or someones dead.’ After that I started asking people from my old job if they had heard from them over the weekend.

“Then this girl sent me a screenshot of something that Brittney had texted her at 7:12 a.m. saying something like she was leaving to go back to New Mexico to figure shit out. And then that Tuesday night still no one had heard from her, so I gathered all the screenshots and asked people what they had heard and sent all of it over to a friend of Jon who I had gone to school with. I said I had a really bad feeling and then I sent her more information. I said ‘I’m sorry if I’m triggering you  or making things difficult.’ And she said ‘No, they are actually looking into her right now.’

“And then Britney called me around 1p.m. the following day and told me everything. She had told the cops everything already. They had released her.

“The police wanted to bring in Armando on assault and battery changes against her so they could interrogate him. He bailed. They apprehended him three hours north with his daughter in the car. He was on his way to the body.”

“Was this the same daughter who walked in on him putting the gun in Britney’s mouth?” I asked.

“Yeah. She is the oldest but she is under 10. The youngest was born in the last couple years.

“The Jaffery detectives called me and asked me a lot of questions about it. I told them what I knew.

“I don’t know what is going to happen but she has around 120 pages of information against him saying that he made her do it, that she was under duress and scared for her own life. Never once does it miss a beat saying she was forced to do it under duress. He isn’t talking. His trial isn’t for a while, because he wants an in-person one. She is supposed to find out about her trial by 4 p.m. today.”

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