PRESTON TOWNSHIP—Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) arrested Cole Francis Dufton, 25, of Pleasant Mount, Friday morning, for the murder of Suzette Bullis, 51 of Lakewood which took place on December 19, 2018.
Dufton was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge (MDJ) Ronald Edwards Friday afternoon.
He is being held without bail in Wayne County Correctional Facility awaiting his appearance in court on February 6.
“This was an execution style murder,” said District Attorney (DA) Patrick Robinson at a press conference following Dufton's arraignment.
Robinson stated Dufton was the last person to see Bullis alive and had the means, motive and opportunity to kill her.
The DA noted post-mortem analysis revealed Bullis was shot in the back of the head with the bullet exiting her forehead.
A 9mm bullet and shell casing were recovered from the scene and later linked to a 9mm Taurus G2c semiautomatic pistol.
The same style firearm was found in the defendant's bedroom.
According to the PSP affidavit, when sent for testing at the PSP Wyoming Lab, the bullet could neither be identified with nor eliminated from the defendant's handgun “due to the lack of individual characteristics and mutilation.”
The cartridge, however, “was identified by the individual characteristics imparted onto the cartridge case after it was discharged within the Taurus firearm,” states the affidavit.
Dufton initially denied the gun was his, but PSP later located a Facebook post on the defendant's account depicting a firearm “which closely resembled” the weapon recovered from his bedroom, states the affidavit.
Robinson noted at the press conference that Bullis had been supplying Dufton with prescription pain pills for a time prior to the incident.
The PSP affidavit notes the victim's daughter Melinda Bullis, “...was aware that her mother had been selling pills for a long time....” Melinda further stated her mother was recently spooked by a person, later identified as Dufton, who had recently requested a lot of pills and had been denied.
The DA's press release states, “Approximately one to two weeks prior to the fatal shooting, Dufton was at the victim's residence, very upset, yelling and screaming at the victim about being shorted $1,500. Dufton pulled out a black handgun, slammed it down and said he was going to kill the guy that stiffed him. The victim stated she had money in the deal too.”
At the press conference following Dufton's arrest, Robinson stated, “I personally will be prosecuting this case.”
Also speaking at the press conference, PSP Captain Sherman Shadle stated, “...Through some very aggressive police work, by the members...of Honesdale Crime Unit and other members of the station, they were able to quickly develop a suspect.”
Shadle added, “Hopefully now the family members and loved ones of the victim can get some closure knowing that today we arrested the man responsible for her death. He's in jail and he's going to be in jail for a long time.”
—Information from a release was used in this story.