Westfield Woman Fought for Gun After Being Shot

August 22, 2014 Updated Aug 23, 2014 at 11:22 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

August 22, 2014 Updated Aug 23, 2014 at 11:22 PM EDT


Jonathan Conklin, 43 and Charles Sanford, 30 were arraigned in Federal Court Friday on three charges including, carjacking, discharging a fire arm during a crime of violence, and interstate transport of a stolen vehicle.

According to authorities, Conklin and Sanford met at a homeless shelter in Erie, PA several months ago and authorities say they quickly became partners in crime, now charged with killing 61 year old Mary Whitaker at her summer home in Westfield early Wednesday morning, August 20, 2014.

Investigators report that Conklin and Sanford were driven from Erie, PA to Sherman, NY which is about 13 miles south of Westfield and dropped off around midnight Wednesday.

Once in Sherman, detectives say Conklin broke into an apartment near a bar and stole multiple guns including a .22 caliber rifle believed to be the murder weapon.

From there, detectives say the men walked to Whitaker's home with a robbery plan in place devised by Conklin.

Investigators say Sanford knocked on Whitaker's door and told her he ran out of gas and needed to use her phone while Conklin hid with the rifle.

Whitaker returned with her cell phone and gave it to Sanford to use. Sanford then made two bogus phone calls and that's when authorities say Conklin appeared with the rifle and said "this is a robbery," and shot Whitaker in the chest after she screamed.

Officials say Whitaker grabbed the gun and struggled with Conklin causing the gun to discharge again, this time Whitaker was shot in the leg.

The men dragged Whitaker into the garage and stole items from her home, including her car.

To make sure she was dead authorities say Conklin ordered Sanford to stab her in the neck, which he did.

The men were arrested in Erie, PA Friday after police used Whitaker's cell phone and credit cards to track the suspects.

Conklin previously lived in Chautauqua County but investigators have not said whether he knew Whitaker or why she was targeted.

Two of Whitaker's friends went to her home around 4:00 pm the day of the murder after they couldn't get in contact with her and found her body in the garage.

Investigators say Conklin gave a woman crack-cocaine to use Whitaker's credit cards at Rite Aid and Wal-Mart in Erie, PA where he purchased a flat screen television and clothes.

Conklin and Sanford will be in federal court Thursday, August 28th at 10:30am for a preliminary hearing.

The two are being held at the Chautauqua County Jail.

In addition to federal charges the two are also expected to face state charges.