First-Degree Murder Added to Charges Against Oil City Man Accused of Murdering Woman

| August 9, 2022

VENANGO CO., Pa. (EYT) – First-degree murder has been added to the charges against an Oil City man accused of killing a woman and then putting her body inside a 55-gallon drum at his Mineral Street residence in March.

(Photo by Jacob Deemer.)

During a pre-trial conference at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, August 5, for 46-year-old Brandon Richard Wells, the following charges have been added:

– Murder Of The First Degree, H1 (which replaces Criminal Homicide, Felony 1)
– Drug Delivery Resulting In Death, Felony 1

Wells also faces the following charges:

– Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver, Felony
– Criminal Attempt – Manufacture, Delivery, or Possession With Intent to Manufacture or Deliver, Felony
– Endangering Welfare of Children – Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 3 (three counts)
– Abuse of Corpse, Misdemeanor 2
– Intentional Possession Controlled Substance By Person Not Registered, Misdemeanor
– Use/Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Misdemeanor

He remains lodged in the Venango County Prison with bail denied due to the nature of the alleged crimes.

Details of the case:

A criminal complaint filed by Lt. Ruditis indicates the investigation began on Saturday, March 5, around 3:48 p.m. after officers were dispatched to a Mineral Street residence for a report of a deceased female.

Upon arrival, police made contact with resident Brandon Richard Wells, who said he found his deceased lover in “the bed area of the residence” and placed her in a blue 55-gallon drum.

Wells said the children were not at the residence and had been taken to the babysitter.

When questioned further, Wells told police that he put the victim’s body in the drum so the children “would not see (her).”

Wells was subsequently detained and additional resources, including the Pennsylvania State Police Forensics Services Unit, were called to the scene.

Investigators found the blue 55-gallon drum in an upstairs bedroom. Inside the drum, police found a white female who, aside from a pair of dark-colored socks, was naked. She was placed head-first into the drum, according to police. Outside the house, police found similar 55-gallon drums.

The criminal complaint notes that a hasp and padlock were found on the door to the bedroom where the victim was located. Police believe the items were placed on the door so no one could enter the room.

Wells was transported to the Oil City Police Department where he was interviewed by Lt. Ruditis and Patrolman Culp.

Wells refused to provide the location of the three children who lived at the home. He indicated that they were “safe” and then requested a lawyer.

During the interview, police noticed an injury to Wells’ arm and offered medical assistance.

Lt. Ruditis returned to the scene where he met with Venango County District Attorney Shawn White and Assistant District Attorney Kyle Peasley. A short time later, Venango County Coroner Christina Rugh arrived on the scene to conduct her investigation.

Police also found multiple items related to the manufacturing and delivery of controlled substances at the residence. These items include but are not limited to large packages of marijuana, chemicals, an elaborate system that police believe was used to manufacture psilocybin, and electrical units believed to be used to manufacture drugs. These items were found in areas that the children could easily access, according to the criminal complaint.

Rugh’s initial evaluation of the victim indicated that she appeared to suffer injuries to her face, arm, and upper torso. She also appeared to have a small amount of petechial hemorrhage.

The victim’s body was transported to another location for further examination. An autopsy has been scheduled.

It was later discovered that Wells dropped the children off at the residence of a known Oil City man. Wells also gave the man a backpack and a plastic bag containing food, psilocybin, and “books” used to manufacture psilocybin.

The criminal complaint states that police interviewed two of the children. They stated that they hadn’t seen their mother on the day that Wells took them to the known man’s house.

The man told police that Wells asked him to watch them but didn’t say why.

Venango County CYS was called to assist.

Wells was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Patrick E. Lowrey on Sunday, March 6, at 1:00 a.m.

On Wednesday, March 9, Oil City Police Chief David Ragon released the name of the victim as 39-year-old Brierlie Walters, of Oil City.

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