DA: Pa. inmate suspected of shooting, child sex abuse, now charged in murder-for-hire plot

A Berks County man who is currently in jail awaiting trial for allegations that he shot a deputy fire chief and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl was yesterday charged with attempting to hire a hit man to kill the two victims, members of their family and “key witnesses” to the alleged crimes, according to a release from the county District Attorney’s Office.

Birdsboro man Christopher Yingling, 42, was first arrested in January. Investigators said he ambushed his girlfriend’s ex-husband, Limerick Fire Company Deputy Chief Glen Russell, with a shotgun in a Spring Township parking lot as Russell was about to meet the woman for a court-appointed counseling session. Russell survived to allegedly identify Yingling, who was charged with attempted murder.

While he was jailed for that offense, last month Yingling was also charged with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl on multiple occasions between June 1, 2011 and December. The victim reportedly told police that Yingling assaulted her, took naked photos of her and texted them to others and forced her to place phone calls to his acquaintances offering sex acts in exchange for money.

Now Yingling faces yet another allegation: that he solicited another inmate to kill Russell, the 14-year-old and other witnesses, according to the Berks County District Attorney.

Detectives began the investigation late last month after receiving a tip from county jail officials. They said they intercepted phone conversations and a handwritten note from Yingling that laid out instructions for the designated hit man.

Allegedly included in those instructions was a directive to meet Yingling’s brother, who investigators said was going to supply a 20-gauge shotgun and a Chevrolet pickup truck for use in the proposed murders.

A search of the brother’s home reportedly turned up two guns, including the 20-gauge weapon authorities said Yingling described in his communications.

Yingling was charged yesterday with criminal solicitation to commit murder. His bail was set at $500,000 and he was returned to jail.

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