BERN TOWNSHIP HOMICIDE - UPDATE
VICTIM: Dennis Fink, 76, of Bern Township
LOCATION: Wooded area near Tully Lane, Bern Township, Pennsylvania
DEFENDANT: Raphael E. Perez-Rodriguez, 29, of Paterson, N.J.
· Murder of the First Degree
· Murder of the Second Degree
· Murder of the Third Degree
· Receiving Stolen Property
· Aggravated Assault
· Abuse of Corpse
· Firearms Not to Be Carried Without License
· Possession of a Controlled Substance
· Fraudulent altering, forgery or counterfeit of title, registration or insurance
· Driving without a license
Summary of the Incident
On July 17, 2020, at approximately 10:26 P.M., a body was discovered in a wooded area along the trail near Tully Lane in Bern Township. The decedent was later identified as Dennis Fink, a 76-year-old male, who resided at 8 Tully Lane.
Detectives have filed the above charges against Raphael E. Perez-Rodriguez, 29, of Paterson, N.J., in Fink’s death. Perez-Rodriguez was previously identified in the homicide investigation from a July 16 traffic stop where investigators discovered items belonging to Fink in the stolen car Perez-Rodriguez was driving in Reading.
Perez-Rodriguez was taken into custody during the stop, transported to the Berks County Sheriff’s Central Processing Center and later committed to Berks County Jail. Reading Police went to Mr. Fink’s residence that evening to check on the property recovered from the stolen car, however, attempts to contact or locate him were unsuccessful.
After a follow-up check the next day was also unsuccessful, authorities initiated a missing person investigation and secured the scene. Fink’s body was discovered by Sgt. Albert Schade III of the Berks County District Attorney’s Office Forensic Services Unit at the rear of a Tully Lane property, not far from the Berks County trail, at 10:26 p.m. July 17. The body was highly decomposed and found lying face down, covered by long dried brush.
Fink’s body was identified by comparing post-mortem fingerprints with a set of fingerprints provided by the Armed Forces of the United States. The victim was a proud member of the United States Military, serving more than (20) twenty years as a pilot in the Air Force, retiring as a Major in July 1986.
On July 19, 2020, at about 9:00 A.M., Forensic Pathologist Dr. Neil Hoffman performed an autopsy on the victim. Based on his examination of the body and the results of the autopsy, Dr. Hoffman determined that the cause of death was “Multiple Stab Wounds” and the manner of death was ruled homicide. Dr. Hoffman also determined the death occurred about one and half to two days before the body was found.
Detectives met with the Perez-Rodriguez on July 20 and the defendant admitted he arrived at Fink’s home on July 16 at about 9 a.m. and removed several items, including the items found in the stolen car.
Detectives also discovered forensic and physical evidence linking Perez-Rodriguez to the crime scene and death of the victim.
Perez-Rodriguez disclosed that he changed his shoes, described as a black pair of sneakers, and washed down his leg with an outside water hose. He added he placed the shoes inside a duffle bag and left it in the residence. A search warrant executed at the residence recovered the shoes as described by Perez-Rodriguez. Further examination revealed the presence of blood on the heel of the left shoe.
Perez-Rodriguez’ clothing from the July 16 traffic stop was also seized and further examination revealed the presence of blood on his shorts.
The investigation remains active and is being handled by the Berks County Detectives Office along with the Bern Township Police Department.