Son described the brutal way he killed his NJ parents to cops, new court records reveal
Officers forced their way into the house through the back door on Sunday. They found Frank Warner dead, his body tied to a chair. On a floor of a nearby bedroom was the body of Joyanne Warner, Frank’s wife of 50 years.
They had been beaten and stabbed. Plastic bags covered their heads.
Questioned by the authorities after being taken from a blackjack table at a Pennsylvania casino, Todd Warner told police he hit his parents with baseball bats – he allegedly used two on his mother after one broke – then tried to suffocate them before to grab a kitchen knife and stab them both, according to court records.
Warner remained in detention in Pennsylvania on Thursday, awaiting extradition to New Jersey where he faces two counts of first degree murder, as well as charges of weapons and theft.
Frank and Joyanne Warner, both 73, were high school sweethearts in Bound Brook, New Jersey, and two months away from their hair salon retirement.
Their bodies were found by their daughter and her husband late Sunday afternoon in Township of Washington residence. The couple had stopped after the Warner’s phone went unanswered. They saw Frank’s body through the window – his head covered in plastic and blood around his head and chest – and immediately called township police, investigators wrote in court records.
Todd Warner lived with Frank and Joyanne at 6 Peregrine Drive in the 55+ reserve in the Hawk Pointe community. He was nowhere to be found as the police searched the house. Investigators were also unable to find Joyanne Warner’s car, a silver 2019 Kia Soul.
Todd’s sister told investigators she believed her brother was responsible for what they found; he had texted and posted a message on Facebook stating that he wanted to harm their parents, according to the affidavit.
Police said they traced a signal from Todd Warner’s cell phone at the Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem, about 20 miles southwest of the Warner’s home. Surveillance video reportedly showed he arrived around 10 a.m. that morning – about eight hours before his parents’ bodies were found.
Warner allegedly drove his mother’s car and used his parents’ credit card for an advance of several thousand dollars (it was at least $ 4,100 and up to $ 8,000 – affidavits list both amounts) before leaving at noon.
Pennsylvania State Police alerted other casinos to be on the lookout for Warner and the Kia as New Jersey authorities draft warrants for theft and fraud.
Warner was found the next day, Monday, playing blackjack at Parx Casino in Bucks County and held by a soldier from the State of Pennsylvania. Washington Township police interviewed Warner at a state police barracks, and that’s when he allegedly admitted to killing his parents. Pants and shoes with possible bloodstains were found in Warner’s vehicle, authorities said.
Investigators have not revealed any possible motive for the crime.
Murder cases are rare but sadly not unheard of in rural Warren County, home to just over 100,000 people. There have been 51 reported homicides over the past 33 years, according to information voluntarily provided by law enforcement and compiled in a FBI Database.
The most recent homicides reported in the Washington area both took place in 2014. In September of the same year, Daniel Laurent, then 26, fatally stabbed Warren Moore, 30, of Jersey City, outside an ex-girlfriend’s home on East Washington Avenue. Laurent was convicted of murder and in 2017 was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
In May 2014, Ralph atkinson, then 38, brutally killed his girlfriend, Margaret Graf-White, 45, with hammer and knife – in front of her children. Authorities say Atkinson did it because Graf-White found out he was having sex with a child, for which he was also charged.
Atkinson, of Knowlton Township, was sentenced in August 2017 to only 26 years in prison, an unusually light sentence but a prosecutor agreed so that the young victim of sexual abuse did not have to testify in two separate trials.