Pennsylvania Man Allegedly Tried to Kill His Wife by Placing Tripwire at Top of Stairs, Police Say

William Dankesreiter, Jr. was charged with attempted murder and taken into custody.
Westmoreland County Jail

A Pennsylvania man has been accused of trying to kill his wife by making a homemade boobytrap out of a fishing wire and a set of stairs, which was described by police as “one of the most bizarre alleged attempted murders they have ever dealt with,” KDKA-TV reported.  

William Dankesreiter, Jr., allegedly tried to kill his wife in the couple’s home in Derry Township by way of gravity and a fishing line, troopers told the news station on Monday. The 60-year-old, who is in police custody, has been charged with multiple felonies, including attempted murder, police said.

“Mr. Dankesreiter put a tripwire at the top of the steps. If she [his wife, Laura] had fallen, there were about ten steps she would have fallen down and there is a small landing area. And then another few steps, she would have been landing on concrete,” trooper Stephen Limani told the news outlet.

He added, "I can only imagine how catastrophic her injuries would be.”

The alleged victim, Laura Dankesreiter, did get tripped up, but her quick reaction likely saved her from injury or worse, police said.

Cops said Dankesreiter told investigators that this wasn’t the first time her husband had tried to hurt her. 

Since the assault, she has filed a protection from abuse order against her husband. 

As for a motive, state police say they’re working on many possible leads.

“There was nothing accidental about this. You could definitely see there was a line tied across,” Limani said.

William Dankesreiter, Jr. is in the Westmoreland County Jail, held on $500,000 bond. He has legal representation and no hearing date has been set yet, according to Magistrate Mark Bilik.

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