A 22-year-old man will be tried for binding, beating and torturing three elderly Mennonite sisters last year in what police called a case of “ethnic intimidation.”
Dereck Taylor Holt and his attorney, Alan Goldberg, waived a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning on numerous offenses, including felony aggravated assault, robbery, unlawful restraint and reckless endangerment.
In turn, District Judge Tony Russell ordered Holt to be tried on 23 charges related to the Dec. 14 incident in Clay Township.
Holt, locked up on $1 million bail since his arrest Dec. 16, appeared in the Ephrata courtroom only to sign paperwork. He said nothing.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The young man accused of torturing three elderly women Friday in their Clay Township home was apprehended swiftly because of collaborative efforts among local police.
That was the message Monday from Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, who led a press conference confirming a litany of charges against 22-year-old Dereck Taylor Holt, who is believed to have targeted the women solely because of his as yet unexplained hatred for members of the Mennonite faith.
“This is one of the most serious crimes that we’ve had in Lancaster County history, one of the most heinous crimes that didn’t result in a homicide,” Stedman said.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” he said.
“To say that I’m shocked by this — we’re all shocked by this — is an understatement.”
Dereck Taylor Holt allegedly used a stun gun-like device on the women, ages 84 to 90, and punched them, according to Northern Lancaster County Regional police. He then bound their hands and feet with tape, covered their faces and ransacked the house, investigators said.
Investigators allege Holt terrorized the women for at least two hours, during which time he indicated he previously had been a member of the Mennonite community and has anger for its members since he left the faith, officials said.
During the assault, he read various Bible passages and then vandalized the women’s Bible, police said.