SUGAR NOTCH — State police and county authorities are investigating a suspicious death at a borough home.
Luzerne County Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes identified the deceased as 64-year-old John Vassello.
Vassello’s body was found in the basement of his home at 918 Main St. at about 5 a.m. Wednesday, hours after he was allegedly the victim of a domestic disturbance involving his stepdaughter, Kaylea Louise Austin.
Hughes pronounced Vassello dead at 6 a.m.
Coroner William Lisman said an autopsy will be performed Thursday.
Court records say Austin, 27, with a listed address of 918 Main St., Sugar Notch, was arrested by borough police Tuesday night on domestic assault charges but was later released.
According to a criminal complaint:
Police responded to the house for an assault at 9:09 p.m. Tuesday and spoke with Vassello.
Vassello claimed Austin was in front of the house arguing with her boyfriend. When Vassello’s wife, Ninette Vassello, went outside to see what was going on, Vassello followed her to stop Austin from arguing.
Vassello told police Austin shoved him, causing him to twist his knee and fall to the ground, striking his head.
Austin fled the house but returned later and was arrested.
She appeared to suffer a panic attack as she was being placed in a cruiser.
Vassello, meanwhile, was treated at the scene by EMTs but refused to be transported to a hospital.
Austin was treated by medical technicians prior to being jailed at the county correctional facility.
Austin was arraigned Wednesday morning by District Judge Joseph Spagnuolo Jr. in Central Court on charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment, harassment and driving with a suspended license. She was released on $5,000 unsecured bail.
Austin was instructed not to return to Vassello’s home. She told the district judge she would instead reside at a house on Golf Course Road in Hunlock Township.