New details released after 10-year-old boy confesses to killing 90-year-old woman

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

“I killed that lady,” the 10-year-old boy told a Pennsylvania state trooper, after a 90-year-old woman was found dead in the home of the boy’s grandfather.

Tristen Kurilla, a fifth grader, made the chilling confession Saturday, police said, after his mother brought him to the Pennsylvania State Police Barracks in Honesdale, about 140 miles north of Philadelphia.

Now, Kurilla is being held at the Wayne County Correctional Facility and charged as an adult with criminal homicide, the Wayne County district attorney’s office said. The boy is separated from adult offenders and is being constantly supervised, CNN affiliate WBRE reported.

The boy admitted to grabbing a wooden cane, holding it against 90-year-old Helen Novak’s throat for several seconds and punching her in the throat and stomach, according to the police affidavit.

Kurilla told police he was angry at Novak because she had yelled at him when he entered her room. He said he wanted to ask her a question.

Were you trying to kill her? the trooper asked the boy.

“No, I was only trying to hurt her,” Kurilla replied, according to the affidavit.

The boy was ordered to be held without bail after his arraignment and is set to appear in court October 22.

Bernie Brown, his lawyer, said he was petitioning the court to get the fifth-grade Damascus Elementary School student out of jail, WBRE reported.

“Tristen really kind of doesn’t have an idea of what is going on,” Brown told the station.

Brown added, “Jail is still jail, no matter what part of the facility you are in.”

Brown also can petition a judge to transfer the case to juvenile court.

Janine Edwards, Wayne County district attorney, said Pennsylvania law made it mandatory “that a criminal homicide charge be first directly filed in adult court by the prosecutor regardless of the age of the perpetrator,” WBRE reported.

“It is not a choice I made,” she told the station, adding that a juvenile detention center will not accept a child charged with homicide. “It’s not a choice the warden made. It’s not a choice Pennsylvania State Police made.”

The age of the defendant was unusual, she told the station.

“That’s not something I’ve seen,” she said. “I’m not sure how many times that’s been seen in Pennsylvania or not.”

Police were initially called to the home of Kurilla’s grandfather, Anthony Virbitsky, in Damascus Township on Saturday morning with a report that an elderly woman had died there, the affidavit said. Virbitsky was the woman’s caretaker, authorities said.

The county coroner responded to the home, found Novak’s body and transported it to the morgue, the affidavit stated.

A few hours later, the boy’s mother, Martha Virbitsky, appeared at the state police post with her son and told Trooper John Decker that the boy had confessed to killing Novak, the affidavit said.

The boy’s mother told police that she “has had a lot of trouble with Tristen and that he has some mental difficulties” and had been violent in the past, the affidavit said.

Kurilla had told his grandfather that Novak was bleeding from the mouth, but denied having done anything to her, Decker wrote in the affidavit.

Anthony Virbitsky told police he checked on Novak but found no blood, although she was breathing heavily. He asked her if she wanted to go to a hospital, the affidavit said, but she refused. When he went to check on her less than an hour later, she was dead, Virbitsky told police, and then his grandson confessed that he had hit her.

An autopsy performed Monday discovered “blunt force trauma to Novak’s neck” and her death was ruled a homicide, the district attorney’s statement said.

Some residents in Damascus Township took issue with locking up the boy in the county jail.

“I know they see a lot of things but I don’t think that they understand what they’re doing,” Kristy Tirney told WBRE. “I don’t know.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


  • Carol

    Personally, I think they should lock up whoever raised this child as well. If you know he’s had problems, why didn’t you get him some help before he hurt someone. Too busy? And how did he get the “Problems”? He wasnt born with that anger or with the instinct to kill was he? He had to get it from somewhere.

    • jamiegreco

      This child is probably a sociopath, but he is a child. I don’t see how you can charge a ten-year-old as an adult. I feel for his parents. I’m sure they did everything they knew how to do, but this child is obviously deeply troubled and even if they were getting him psychiatric care, it wouldn’t preclude him from committing a crime while he isn’t being treated. People who blame the parents should do some research on psychopathy in children before spitting out judgement. I’m so sorry for both families involved.

      • kathy cassity

        Sociopaths are not born, they are created. He had/has parents. Is his father around? No mention of him. Perhaps the father has abused the boy. Now, the boy himself has problems. He needs intensive psycotherapy, but it may be too late for that. Parents are to a large degree responsible for how their children turn out. At the very least, if he did, indeed, have problems, why didn’t the mother get him into therapy. More than likely she doesn’t know what to do, or care what to do, because she is stupid or crazy, herself.

      • GoGreco!

        I commend you…. I mean, really Jamie. I at first read this thinking, probably a crappy mom. Then… I wasn’t sure so I read the comments just to see what people said… and you are very right. IF the circumstances are what you are thinking, I agree with you… if she was seeking help, and he did this, he needs help and she needs help… not jail. He may need true therapy at home with medication also… Not all are made, many are born. You give me hope that you can see things in other-than-negative ways.

      • GG

        No, sociopaths aren’t always “created”. The are most often born that way, it’s a defect in the brain. We have no idea about this family, so why are you people passing judgment on them? I have read that they refuse to take him out of jail and into their home while he awaits trial. I think this is a good decision. Some people are just born evil.

    • Christine Ess

      Because when did They ever help kids in need? They are always neglecting the needs of the kids they are supposed to protect and serve. How do you know she hadn’t asked CPS for help in the past? You are too quick to blame.

    • Shawn

      uhmm except children CAN be born this way and have been many times before. A mental deficiency doesn’t just happen one day, you’re born with it and the more your brain develops, the worse it can get. You saying that a child couldn’t be born this way is akin to saying a kid can’t be born retarded *no, i’m not going to use the politically correct word either*

      Try reading up on the subject before spouting nonsense please

      • Robyn

        Thanks Shawn, I’m so sick of immediately laying blame on the parents, YES they should have gotten him help sooner, YES they dropped the ball on this, BUT children can be born this way, with a “killer instinct” as someone put it. Most of the time sociopaths aren’t created, they don’t just immediately change one day and start killing, there are signs if you know what to look for. I feel sorry for both families, I have a 10 year old and it breaks my heart for what his family is going through, as well as the victim and her family. But stop being so quick to say “lock the parents up” really? There are times when it is the parents fault, but NOT every time.

    • uhhuhhhhh

      First of all, please get off your high and mighty horse and spare us the speech. How dare you blame his mother? She was apt enough to bring him to the police station wasn’t she? Why do you feel the need to blame parents for behavior of their children that they cannot control. Do you think she wants to see her son in jail? People like you are part of the problem in society.

  • CarolAnne

    This child may very well have been born this way. And his mother may also have tried to find him help but is NOT easy to find or afford. You should keep your mouth shut as it is obvious you haven’t a clue.

    • marianne

      And if the child was born this way, it shows even more that a lot of mothers don’t want to see the issue, a mother wants to protect her child and whatever it does, they find excuses for strange behaviours and blame others. I can say that because I have seen it. And there is a lot of help for free, if the mothers would just accept that their child has a problem.

  • Michael Morganelli

    Kinda looks more like the child didn’t have a father figure in his life which could of tamed the whole situation or that there may have been some type of violence in his past between the parents that may have provoked the bigger issue of homicide! The child doesn’t need a jail! He needs some serious counseling to put him on the right path!

  • kathy cassity

    His own FATHER may have abused him! Or, a family member, or even his mother. No one knows for sure. But, what IS known, is that kids are NOT born this way. They just aren’t. Parents ARE responsible for how their children turn out. If they are abused by someone, it is up to the PARENTS to get the child intensive therapy. If not, THIS is what happens.

    • Rose

      Please just read a book, any book, on psychology before you think you have anything of use to add. You’re comments are ignorant and based on wild speculation, thus making you look an idiot.

      • Taylor barber

        You know what I think I think that it’s not the parents falt. The kid is NOT a sociopath. As you heard him say he was NOT trying to kill her just hurt her he may have anger problems. The woman made him made so he got violent there was no intent to kill. He is a CHILD. The mom may have tried to get him help but couldn’t manage to find some. We know nothing about these people so don’t blame the mom we don’t know what either of them has been through. The child is a child of God and is not EVIL we all have flaws we all make mistakes. Another thing she was 90!!!! He obviously didn’t know how fragile she was he didn’t know he was killing her like gosh he’s 10 years old. Anyways if the mom is so stupid or whatever she wouldn’t hve brought him there in the first place. I guess what I’m trying to say is we don’t have a clue as to there background so we should all back off and worry about ourselves. Because the mom probably went through enough without all you people judging her. Because no mom EVER wants to hear that she is a bad parent.

    • Jennifer

      I am not sure where you get that idea from…I hate to tell you but sometimes children ARE born this way, with psychological issues. Why do you think they make medicine for psychological problems? Because sometimes it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, etc. I take it you have never studied up on nature versus nurture…never taken any psychology courses, or even cracked a book on psychology for that matter. Yes, sometimes it is a direct result of the child’s upbringing, but not always.

  • stef

    This little a*****e needs to be beaten and thrown in jail. He should absolutely be charged as an adult and remain in prison till hes dead. The little f***** said “no i wasnt trying to kill her, i just wanted to hurt her” he knew what he was doing!!!!!!!! Stop with this bleeding heart “put him in therapy” s*** because he will do it again, his statements to police were arrogant enough to suggest that much.

    • kenzie

      Have u read the law? Beating ur child is against the law,his mom would be throne in jail and that would show him its OK….. but I do agree with the fact that u said throw him in jail but a little kid jail.

  • Denise Dutkowski

    As heinous as this crime is, you cannot hold a child to the same level of accountability as an adult. I would expect this in third world countries but not in an wonderful and democratic country like the United States. Obviously there is something seriously wrong with the boy, and he needs help not incarceration. This is revenge not justice.

    • LsJ

      So send him back out into civilized society to kill someone else? Maybe a kid this time? Someone his own age? Someone else he’ll just want to “hurt”?
      This young person has rotted.

      It’s a shame but his comfort should not jeopardize Someone else’s life.

  • Lodhi

    There are too many unknowns to be able to make a sound judgement. Personally, I know of people who were mentally disturbed since childhood, and they did receive counselling while growing up. While it may very well be true that the kid was abused, it is equally probable he has anger management issues. A 10 year old kid who gets angry even on the slightest of things and loses his mind IS capable of taking a 90 year old’s life. There are so many such kids out there who go through their childhood without getting into deep trouble. This one seems like the bad egg who fell through the cracks.

  • meek

    Um that kids does deserve jail idgaf if he is ten or not he made the concious decision to beat the woman so if she died from it he is solely responsible. And you cant alwayd blame the parents thats just what this sad ass country feeds its children: violence, sex, greed, hatred. Its no wonder kids are turning out the way they are now days this country and its people are so desensitized its pathetic.

  • Jay T

    This boy definitely shouldn’t by locked away in county jail. Yeah they say he is separated and they keep an eye on him but the fact is he is 10 yrs old. If people think he has issues now just wait until he comes out of count jail, and think of all the things he will hear in there. It will mess with his head some fierce. Juvenile detention centers are made for kids and he should be there. That is what they are, jails for kids. I don’t think a 10 yr old can even comprehend the actions that were described. This event won’t even hit this individual for another 6-10 yrs. He should be separated and watched in Juvenile Detention Center, bc that is what they are for!!! This KID will not even realize the total weight and travesty of the event and situation for at least another 10 yrs maybe more if he has a learning and/or other disabilities from what his mother and lawyer are saying.

  • Tom

    I don’t think that he did it. He’s just covering for his dad as he was instructed to. Kid’s get less time for their crimes don’t you all know anything? Anyway, if he did it he was justified as she talked mean to him. That was certainly a child abuse issue. See, now don’t everyone feel better.

  • MzDivine

    People are predispositioned genetically for all sorts of things…when Hitler was a child who could foresee the monster that dwelled within…regardless someone died at the hands of a child & the child is “broken”…I feel for all sides of this extremely devastating situation…I totally agree not to put him in adult prison or juvenile prison but send him to Quantico for the FBI to both study & find ways to prevent, recognize & treat sociopaths…the truth comes out of the mouth of babes…Hitler executed 12 million people… most sociopaths are studied too late after they’ve honed their manipulative skills…just saying

  • Michelle

    What is wrong with you people? First of all, this whole story sounds suspicious! Second, even if it is true, it’s not a henious crime! He’s a kid with impulse control problems which accidentally killed someone. He obviously did not want to murder her! You guys make it sound like this stupid story is believable and that it’s horrifying. Like he took a knife and carved out her heart. Smh. Also the stupid DA didn’t have to charge this kid with a homicide. Acting like they have no control in this article.

  • My Opinion

    sooooooooooo Pretty much sounds like.. Mom can’t handle him and wants him out of her life.. Poor Kid.. He doesn’t need Prison he needs costly extensive Therapy!!!! that I’m sure Mom doesn’t want to pay.. Such a shame.

  • Tina Brian Scobee

    They say he doesn’t know whats going on? He knew enough to pick up her cane and hurt her… I have a 10 year old Grandson. He knows right from wrong. He knows Instantly when he is in trouble. If mom can’t handle him, then he does need to be taken outta the home. Should he be tried as a adult? I’m on the fence with that one. So very hard to say. Yes he took a life, would the state be able to hold him in a secure area until he reaches at least 16? Chances are probably not. Just hate to hear stuff like this. No telling what this boy has seen in his 10 years of life.

  • Bonnie Kerry

    I think a lot of violence today steams from all the video games they play all day and every day and any time .they have some free time. The parents do look at the games or how they are rated the kid wants it and the parents buy them just to shut the kid up. If more parents were involved with their kids just maybe some of them could be saved from, all the violent video games

    • Please tell me you're kidding

      Seriously?! Millions of people play video games but still manage to understand that murdering their grandmother isn’t ok.

  • ken

    This boy shows the makings of a future serial killer. 10 years old but already ruined and a danger to society. Take him out. Period.

  • joe beck

    yall want to blame the parents, we have dealt with a couple of children through the years that are this way, they don’t care about hurting people or animals, and don’t have the same makeup usual children have about hurting animals or people and right and wrong. if they had the same help system then they have today maybe it would save us having serial murders and rapists. its hard to deal with and the parents don’t always know I tor what to do about it if they do know it.

  • Denise Witmer

    Ive had friends family and myself as a sigle mother they seem not to want to help you its like they look down on you as a single parent. Im not saying this justifies anything just from my past history when my son was young I couldnt find any help with the scools police or any others, maybe its changed but I feel it has not since a dear friend of mine tried to get her son help with him being on heroin but got no help since he had just turned 18yrs sad story the drugs took this bright young man into stealing and now jail somehow someway there has to be a solution to all this madness , now at 18yrs he is in maximum security with criminals that will teach him m8re than we can or could imagine. Ill never forget that call from my friend ask7ng what she should do as she tried to talk to me with tears. So for the young man that tried to help himself and his mother who wanted some help but got none looks at her son thru prison glass and letters and phone calls now ..

  • Lisa Morganning


    • Shana Hayes

      When did this become a racial debate ? Turn your caps lock off… There’s no need for it. Children don’t have te self control as adults do. He doesn’t deserve to be in an adult prison. That little boy just needs help. Calm yourselves.

  • Arturo

    I wouldnt honestly agree with the law because i think charging a kid with adult charges isn’t very necessary. He should be put in a mental hospital or something like that so that he could not be so violent. That poor little boy didn’t have any help before so why shouldn’t he have any help now

  • kenzie

    I don’t thank that he knew he was killing her. He was a 10yr old little boy and I disagree with the fact that he should be in jail. A little kid jail yes a jail where other murderers and offenders….I don’t think that is a good place for him even if is in a different part of the building. Because those are 18 yr olds and up. He still has 8more years to grow up,I don’t think he should be in a jail he should be in rehab getting help for his issues,I mean yes he killed her but again I dont think he knew. And yes he needs to know that what he did was wrong but he also needs help and his family and friends can’t help him if he is in jail. Just throwing that out there.

  • Jonathan

    It’s sad really in America you r either really clever or really dumb, none of you r clever none of you are clever we don’t know what this kid’s been through and for all we know the 90yr old could have abused the 10yr old, none of u r mental health experts or judges or someone who knows anything about this or care about any of the people involved, get a life retards.

  • John

    I don’t know why the kid shod be suffering 45 years in jail yes he did something wrong but come on he’s 10 at least give him a year or 2

  • Shala Sumner

    After examine a couple of of the blog posts on your website now, and I actually like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web site checklist and will be checking back soon. Pls try my site as nicely and let me know what you think.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.