Police: Woman mutilated, murdered after turning down marriage proposal; suspect fled to Illinois

UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. -- A Lehigh Valley community is grieving after police said a marriage proposal turned deadly.

Tara Serino's father initially reported her missing last week. on Wednesday, 19-year-old Tara was laid to rest and her accused killer awaits extradition in Illinois.

At St. Joseph the Worker Church in Orefield, Lehigh County, friends and family gathered to say goodbye to Tara. Police said she was brutally killed last week by 34-year-old Christopher Ryan Tucker.

Tara was described by those who knew her in online tributes as "full of wonder and enthusiasm" and "honestly kind." Another person wrote, "Tara was such a beautiful soul, brightened anyone's day up if they were down."

According to court documents, Tara's father reported her missing on Nov. 1. She was last heard from two days before, when she told her father she was going out with a friend - Christopher Tucker.

"Both fathers were looking. The father of the victim was looking for her and reported her missing. The father of the defendant had actually brought some of the stuff back to the victim's father," Berks County District Attorney John Adams said.

According to court papers, Tucker's father was notified by police in Illinois that his son was in a hospital there. While he was hospitalized, the suspect told detectives a few days prior, he had asked Tara Serino to marry him. She declined and allegedly added that Tucker should just kill her.

Tucker told police he then choked her, mutilated her body, snapped her neck and bludgeoned her. Police said he then left her body in his home on Roth Road in Albany Township and drove to Illinois.

Once Tucker made this confession, Pennsylvania State Troopers were sent to the home, where they discovered her body.

People who live in the area of the Roth Road residence said a crime like this is unusual.

"Super quiet. It's all farming. I lived here for 26 years. I have a farm up the street and never heard anything like this," said Don Peters, a neighbor.

Authorities said Tucker is still locked up in Champaign County, Ill.
He is scheduled to be brought back to Pennsylvania early next week. He'll be formally arraigned on homicide charges and the Berks County district attorney's office said he will be held without bail.
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