- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania prison inmate has been charged with killing his stepfather in 2008 because he believed the victim - a convicted sex offender - had molested a child the inmate knew.

Samuel McFarland Jr., 38, professed his innocence at his arraignment Monday by saying, “I swear to God I didn’t kill anyone.”

State police and prosecutors said McFarland has bragged to other people about killing 56-year-old Thomas Conrad in August 2008 then burying Conrad’s body, which has never been found.

Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser said she believes she can prove the case even without Conrad’s body. Among other things, she said, investigators have pieced together the trail connecting the gun allegedly used to kill Conrad to McFarland.

McFarland is imprisoned on a parole violation on a 2012 robbery conviction. Online court records don’t list an attorney for him. He faces a preliminary hearing Aug. 11 on charges including criminal homicide and abuse of a corpse.

Conrad was released from state prison on January 2007 after serving time for rape in 1992, moving in with his wife and her son, McFarland.

A boy told police in October that he was fishing with McFarland years ago when the suspect bragged that he shot Conrad six times near a closet in his bedroom, then buried the body in a mine or cave. The boy said McFarland also threw pieces of a disassembled gun into Somerset Lake. Police eventually found parts of a gun in the lake, including a magazine with six spent shells.

That gun had been stolen during a burglary in July 2008. One man convicted in that break-in has told police he traded the weapon to McFarland in exchange for heroin shortly before Conrad disappeared. The burglar has since told police that McFarland later told him not to worry about the gun because it was at the bottom of a lake, police said in a criminal complaint.

Police said they also found Conrad’s blood in his bedroom near an area where some carpet was replaced.

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