A man convicted of murdering a Fayette County woman in 2001 is accused of raping another several times last week at his Claysburg home.
Court records show Kenneth Lee Wells, 43, is also on probation for a Cambria County case, where he was originally charged with strangling someone in Johnstown in late 2019.
In the latest case, police said Wells met the woman through an online dating app on Dec. 26. After spending several days together, he raped the woman multiple times – at one point putting a knife to her throat.
At another point, the woman said Wells choked her and threatened her life, later telling her that if she talked about the incidents, she'd "end up like Joselyn," – a woman murdered in Fayette County in 2001, Greenfield Township police said.
Online court records show Wells served 16 years in state prison for the third-degree murder of a former girlfriend, Joselyn Mickins, 21, of Masontown.
Mickens was shot in the face, with the round partially severing her spinal cord, according to a 2001 article by the Tribune-Review. And at the time, Wells said the shooting was accidental – that the couple liked to play with guns during sex and the weapon "just" fired, striking her.
In a criminal complaint filed against Wells on Tuesday in Blair County, Greenfield Township Police said the Claysburg area woman reported the assault after she was dropped off at another residence by Wells and despite threats to stay quiet about what happened.
Wells is charged with strangulation, rape, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and terroristic threats, among others.
He was lodged in Blair County Prison after failing to post $200,000 bail.
Cambria County District Attorney Greg Neugebauer said the county's probation office is being notified of Wells' latest charges.
Cambria County case
Wells' probation stems from a December 2019 case involving a then-girlfriend. He was originally charged with strangulation, assault, false imprisonment and unlawful restraint.
But two months after the case proceeded to county court, Wells pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct involving a physical offense and received a year of probation in March.
Neugebauer said the move was made reflecting what Wells' victim viewed as the best resolution for the case.
"Oftentimes in instances when two people involved in a case are dating, there are a lot of factors that come into play," he said.
Many times, victims are also the only witnesses to the act and "their opinions matter" when it comes to prosecuting the case, Neugebauer added.
There are times an accuser might change their mind about putting someone they know behind bars or may not be comfortable "living through" the moment again by testifying in court. Oftentimes – as with Wells 2019 case – victims "just want to move on" – and put a traumatic incident behind them.
A sentence for a crime – whether jail time or probation – is meant to deter someone from committing crimes in the future.
"And unfortunately, that doesn't always happen," he said.