Murdered Edwardsville man described as wonderful by family

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A Luzerne County man who prosecutors say was murdered for his money by his alleged killers, including his teenaged granddaughter. 71-year-old Joseph Monka was stabbed and beaten to death in his Edwardsville home. Today his four accused killers faced charges at a hearing.

Also in court were family and friends of Joseph Monka. His murder stunned Edwardsville and everyone who knew him.

“Wonderful. One word that describes Grampy was wonderful. Generous, loving, he was just wonderful,” said Rebecca Faillace, the fiance of Monka’s grandson.

And that was heard over and over again from people who knew Joseph Monka. Rebecca Faillace is engaged to Monka’s grandson. She and other family members came to Luzerne County court Friday wearing t-shirts with Monka’s photo on the front with the words Justice for Joe. On the back are the words for the Lord’s Prayer.

“Everybody called him Grampy, every person that met him called him Grampy. He was wonderful,” Faillace said.

But prosecutors say not everyone thought he was wonderful, including his 17-year-old granddaughter, Gabriella Long. She and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Christopher Cortez and two of their friends, 20-year-old Devin Cunningham and 16-year-old Mercedes Lin Hall, are accused of conspiring to kill Monka.

He was found stabbed and beaten to death inside his Edwardsville home on April 17th. At a hearing today, state troopers say that Cunningham and Cortez admitted they killed Monka. Cunningham beat him with a golf club and Cortez stabbed him. The girls allegedly helped plan the attack. All of this for $30,000 that Monka kept in a safe in his basement. Rebecca says the family takes it day by day.

“Of course everybody in my immediate family is upset including the mother and Joe’s daughter his wife and everything like that. Having a very difficult time with it  but  are trying to push through it,” Faillace said.

The judge ruled there was enough evidence to send three of the four suspects to trial on all charges, including murder. But he dismissed the homicide charge against Hall, saying there was no evidence that she helped plan the murder. A theft charge was forwarded to court. The district attorney, Stephanie Salavantis, says she will refile the murder charge against Hall next week.

Investigators say Monka did not get along with Cortez and did not want him in his house. That tension they say led to the murder plot.


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