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Man accused of two-county crime rampage seemed normal before spree

Updated: Monday, January 13 2014, 09:47 PM CST

Reported by: Donna Kirker Morgan

MARYSVILLE -- A Perry County man who reportedly went on a deadly two-county crime spree asked for forgiveness as he held up a gas station in Dauphin County. Donald Tolbert told the clerk of the gas station that he was a “crack head” and he repeatedly said he was sorry.

As CBS 21 searched Monday for more details in the Saturday crime spree, many people said Donald Tolbert was a nice man who had a bad drug problem.

The crime spree came one day after Tolbert was granted bail for charges that involved a break-in at Tolbert’s former girlfriend’s home in October. Court papers say Tolbert broke into the home through a kitchen window while the woman was sleeping and he “held her down”.

Magisterial District Judge Michael Schechtlery said there were many factors into his decision to grant $50,000 unsecured bail. Unsecured bail means no money has to be handed over to the courts unless bail is violated.

"I was shocked. The day before, in my court, he was well-spoken, not agitated, not angry," Schechterly said. "This was same bail set for him previously and there wasn't any problems.”

The charges involving his ex-girlfriend were previously dropped because she did not show up at court to testify against Tolbert.

But less than 24 hours after being release on bail Tolbert reportedly went on a two-county crime rampage -- killing a woman now identified as Jennifer Zerbe-Hecker, 56.

He also is blamed for stealing guns from a home in Howe Township, stealing a car and holding up a gas station in the borough of Dauphin.

The clerk of that store says that Tolbert blocked off the door to the store and got out of the car holding a handgun. He asked for him to hand over all the money, but as he did this, he kept saying he was sorry and that he was addicted to crack.

It would only be a an hour later that Tolbert would be chased into a deadend on Second Street by Susquehanna Township police where gunfire erupted.

The coroner reported today, despite many bullets in the suspect’s vehicle, only one was responsible for Tolbert’s death and that was self-inflicted.

We also discovered some of the bullets fired by police hit a home behind the car. We are told that people were sitting in one of the rooms where the bullet hit a window.

Since police fire weapons in this case, state police are handling the investigation. We have not been told whether Tolbert fired at police prior to when they fired their weapons.

Man accused of two-county crime rampage seemed normal before spree

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