A man suffocated his girlfriend after deliberately crashing his car into a guardrail in Pennsylvania, officials said. Charges have been filed against 19-year-old Benjamin Daniel Klinger for the death of 17-year-old Sammi Heller.
"At first glance, this appeared to be simply another tragic vehicle accident," Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman told the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era. "However, the police worked hand-in-hand with our forensic experts and saw this was far more complicated, sinister and certainly criminal."
On Dec. 4, Klinger drove his car into a guardrail at approximately 100 miles per hour. He was not injured in the incident, but girlfriend Heller was, or was at least weakened enough not to be able to fight back when Klinger sat on her head and torso.
A truck driver came upon the crash and called 911. He said he could hear Heller screaming and telling Klinger to, "Get off me," but was told by the operators not to move the victims, the Daily Mail reported. When police arrived, Klinger was still sitting atop Heller's body; doctors later discovered that Heller died of asphyxiation.
Heller and Klinger had had a tumultuous relationship, with Heller previously telling friends that Klinger had tried to scare her while driving and threatening to kill them both in a crash. One friend told officials that Heller has said Klinger would push her into walls and had even pushed her down a set of stairs.
According to the Daily Mail, in the days before the crash, Heller had told friends she thought she was pregnant and that Klinger had found out. However, Stedman has confirmed that Heller was not pregnant at the time of her death.
Klinger has been charged with homicide, aggravated assault, drug offenses and driving violations. He had been free on bail after being charged with simple assault for running over Heller's foot and two counts of disseminating explicit sexual materials to a minor, according to court records.
To make matters even worse, police were able to piece together that Klinger, "found outside of the car on the passenger's side, was wearing his seat-belt at the time of the crash and wasn't ejected from the car. That means … that Klinger deliberately got out of his seat and walked over to Heller," the Intelligencer Journal reported.