On Wednesday, May 30, 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the execution warrant for John Koehler. John was given an execution date of July 25, 2012 by the State of Pennsylvania. This is his third execution date. John was convicted of murdering Regina Clark and her nine-year-old son, Austin Hopper. John was granted a stay of execution on June 13, 2012 by the US District Court for Middle Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania has not held an involuntary execution since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The three executions that have been performed since 1976, have all been voluntary, that is the inmate has stopped their appeals process and asked to be executed.
John did not commit the murders alone. His accomplice was 19-year-old William Curley, who believed that John worked for the mob. John told William that he could earn “six digits” if he started working in the same “profession.” Curley agreed, believing he would not be killing innocent people.
At 4:00 am on April 18, 1995, Koehler arrived at the house of Melissa Mack and Ricky Hunsinger, who were friends of Curley and was letting Curley stay with them. Koehler brought with him Regina Clark andher nine-year-old son, Austin Hopper. Koehler told Curley that he wanted Curley to kill them. Curley said that he did not
want to murder them. Koehler told Curley “kill or be killed.” Curley and Koehler then agreed upon a plan; they would go to a restaurant and Koehler would go inside while Curley would go with Regina and Austin to get another car. Instead of getting another car, Curley was to kill them. Curley was unable to pull the trigger, so he brought Regina and Austin back to the restaurant.
Curly and Koehler agreed upon a new plan and, hours later, drove to the house of Janet Schrader, along with Regina and Austin. Janet’s son, Kirk was a good friend of Curley. Curley stayed in the garage, while everyone else went inside. Curley once again told Koehler he did not think he could kill Regina. Koehler told Curley that he had to kill her. Eventually, Regina entered the garage, where Curley shot her three times in the head. Koehler checked Regina’s body and thought she was still alive, so he told Curley to cut her throat with a knife. Curley then drove her body to a dump and disposed of her in an abandoned refrigerator.
When he returned to the Schrader residence, Koehler told him that Austin was a “loose link” and also had to be killed. Curley and Austin went to the garage where Curley shot Austin three times in the head and twice in the body. Austin was disposed of in a sluice pipe. After disposing of the body, once more returned to the Schrader residence to clean the garage where the murders occurred.
Curley and Koehler then went back to the dump where Regina’s body was placed and attempted to secure the refrigerator, but realized the chain they had brought was too short. The two men then drove to Twin Ponds, where Curley, at Koehler’s suggestion disposed of the knife and gun used in the murders. Koehler dropped Curley off at Mack’s house and drove away. Curley moved to North Carolina one week later.
On April 26, 1995, a man came across Regina’s body while he was searching the dump for recyclables. He contacted police who, in a news broadcast, indicated what the woman found was wearing. Melissa Mack recognized the clothing description as what Regina had been wearing and contacted police. She identified the body and told police that Regina had been traveling with a young son.
Police investigation led them to Curley in North Carolina. Curley confessed and told the police where they could find the weapons used in the murders and where to find the boy’s body. Curley and Koehler were both arrested for their parts in the murder. Curley is currently serving a life sentence for his part in the murders.
Please pray for peace for the family of Regina Clark and Austin Hopper. Please pray for John Koehler. John has not written to The Forgiveness Foundation, therefore, we do not know if he has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Please pray that he may come to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.