Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
A Pennsylvania man has been accused of trying to kill his wife by setting a tripwire on the stairs of the family’s Derry Township home.
William Joseph Dankesreiter Jr., 60, is now facing charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault, and reckless endangerment after authorities say he secured a wire across the basement stairs to try to send his wife flying down the staircase, according to Trib Live.
Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Stephen Limani told Oxygen.com that William Dankesreiter’s wife — who Fox News later identified as Laura Dankesreiter — discovered the wire Saturday morning as she was heading down into the basement of the couple’s home to get a frozen breakfast bowl for breakfast.
“She went to go downstairs and tripped and was able to catch herself before she tumbled down the stairs, which are rather steep,” Limani said.
She initially believed that one of the couple’s cats may have torn up part of the carpeting at the top of the steps, but then discovered two metal eye hooks securing fishing wire to each side of the doorway in a taut line.
“There’s 10 steps and there’s a very small landing and then it turns at a 90-degree angle to two or three more steps and then just a concrete floor. So, it’s not going to be a pleasant fall if you go down those steps,” Limani said. “You’re going to sustain a severe injury.”
Laura was initially baffled by the bizarre discovery, but after calling family members, Limani said she decided to contact police.
As she was talking with troopers, William pulled up at the scene in his pickup truck after returning home from work.
“He basically just didn’t want to talk to us, which is his right,” Limani said.
Authorities believed they had enough evidence to charge William with attempted murder and took him into custody.
Police believe the trip line was put in place some time after the couple had been carrying groceries to the freezer the night before. Limani said after making repeated trips up and down the stairs on Friday, Laura went to sleep. When she woke up the next morning, she went to get her breakfast bowl — a usual Saturday morning routine for the 59-year-old — and discovered the trip line.
William had been at work at the time.
“They are the only two that reside in the house,” Limani said. “They are the only two that were there.”
Investigators are now trying to determine a possible motive for the alleged murder attempt.
“It was obviously thought through,” Limani told local station KDKA of the brazen plan. “I don’t know how long he was thinking this through. You could definitely see there was a line tied across. There was nothing accidental about this.”
Laura told Fox News that she’s just glad she caught herself before falling down the staircase.
“I am very fortunate,” she said. “I went backward instead of forward.”
She told the news outlet that she was shocked to discover her husband’s alleged plan to take her life.
“I am a mess,” she said. “You don’t plan on your husband of 27 years trying to kill you.”
William is currently being held in jail on a $500,000 bond.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content.