News

Authorities: Homeless Men Used Stolen Gun To Kill NYC Violinist

Westchester Philharmonic violinist Mary Whitaker, 61, was shot and killed in her upstate home. (Credit: Westchester Philharmonic)

Westchester Philharmonic violinist Mary Whitaker, 61, was shot and killed in her upstate home. (Credit: Westchester Philharmonic)

WESTFIELD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal authorities say two homeless men used a stolen gun to kill a New York City orchestra violinist after gaining entry to her western New York summer home by telling her they had run out of gas.

Local media report that court documents filed in Buffalo say 43-year-old Jonathan Conklin and 30-year-old Charles Sanford stole weapons from an apartment in the town of Sherman before fatally shooting Mary Whitaker at her home in nearby Westfield on Wednesday morning.

Police say the men stole her car and drove to Erie, Pennsylvania, where they were tracked down by the FBI. Both men have been charged with stealing property and taking it across state lines, and carjacking. A grand jury will consider murder charges.

Conklin, 43, became a suspect early on, the sheriff said, because he already was wanted for grand larceny and was believed to be in the area. He was seen on video trying to use Whitaker’s credit card after the shooting, Gerace said.

Whitaker, of Manhattan, performed with the Westchester Philharmonic and spent summers with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.

The Westchester orchestra paid tribute to her on its website, saying she had been with the group for at least 27 years.

“A true and caring friend and an exquisite artist, Mary was loved and admired for her gentleness yet strength, her wisdom, enthusiasm, and generous soul,” the tribute said. “We miss her terribly. May she rest in peace.”

You Might Also Be Interested In:

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)