Wilkes-Barre woman, 28, was found dead in Easton

Last updated: September 27. 2013 11:08PM - 3863 Views
JON O’CONNELL joconnell@timesleader.com

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The mother of a woman slain in Northampton County Sunday remembered the time her daughter helped deliver a baby goat about two years ago on the family farm in Hunlock Creek.

“The goat needed help and, as gross as it was, she reached in saved that animal,” said Elaine Smith, who lives in Nanticoke.

Amanda Stratford, 28, of Wilkes-Barre and Nanticoke, was found dead around 11:30 Sunday night in a pickup truck in Easton. The Northampton County coroner ruled her death a homicide after she was shot multiple times.

Smith and her husband did not get word of her death until Wednesday when the coroner called. Unanswered questions swirl around the woman’s death. Run-ins with the county judicial system speckled her past, and Easton police say her death was drug-related. Smith knows her daughter had trouble with the law years ago, but she said things seemed to be on the upswing.

About a year ago, when Smith’s husband was in the hospital for about a month, Smith stayed by his side. Stratford checked in every day, always bringing something along.

“She would bring me food to make sure I ate. She brought me clothes to hospital because she knew I was staying there,” Smith said.

When the family fell on hard times, they sold the farm in Hunlock Creek and bought a fixer-upper in Nanticoke. Smith said everyone got together to restore the old home and Stratford was there often, despite her small stature, swinging a sledgehammer to help clear out crumbling walls.

When she was in high school, Stratford spent a few months in a juvenile detention center in Wind Gap following a domestic dispute with her sister, a sentence she served by order of then-Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, Smith said. The grieving mother said she started running with the wrong crowd when she got home.

“That place was a nightmare … She was a little different after that,” Smith said.

Court records show Stratford, whose maiden name was Frey, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in 2003. She had been separated from her husband and she had worked most recently as a waitress.

She dropped out of West Side Vocational-Technical School in Pringle, her mother said, because other girls treated her poorly. Stratford was before the judge again in 2007 for more drug charges. But Smith was certain she had left those days behind.

“The last time she got in trouble, I would not go see her. I told her, ‘The only thing you can do is get yourself cleaned up and I’ll come and see you,’ And she did,” Smith said. “She never wanted to go back to that.”

When she heard last, her daughter was helping a friend move in Easton. They spoke last Wednesday, she said.

Smith and her husband had been planning a trip to Maine, where they often go and rent a home for a week. Stratford had never been there, she said.

“She always wanted to go with us in the fall,” Smith said. “So we were thinking we were all going to get our money together. Now we’re never going to have a chance to do that.”

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