Man with ties to murder is arrested for drugs

February 21, 2008 1:41:32 PM PST
A former administrator at Saint Joseph's University and a potential witness in a 2006 killing was jailed in Montgomery County on drug charges.

Detectives investigating allegations of a sexual assault found drugs last week in the Narberth apartment of F. Bruce Covington.

Covington, who was being held Thursday on $500,000 bail, is a possible witness in the 2006 murder of a college intern in a Delaware County home.

In the recent sexual assault case, a 27-year-old man told detectives that a man named Bruce gave him drugs and assisted with an injection.

Investigating the Feb. 8 assault, Narberth police searched Covington's apartment on Feb. 12 and found about 3 to 4 grams of suspected crack cocaine, 3 to 4 grams of suspected crystal methamphetamine, a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, according to a police affidavit. Authorities then filed more than 100 drug-related counts against Covington.

Covington, 57, has admitted he was inside a house in Glen Mills in September 2006 around the time Jason Shephard, a 23-year-old intern from North Dakota, was allegedly drugged and killed.

Covington has not been charged in Shephard's death. He has told police he was asleep in the basement at the time Shephard died.

The homeowner, William Smithson, is awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge in which he faces the possibility of being sentenced to death.

Smithson's attorney says Covington supplied methamphetamines and GHB to Smithson and Shephard, and injected his client in the hours before Shephard died.

Authorities believe Smithson slipped Shephard a date-rape drug and then strangled Shephard when he rejected Smithson's sexual advances.

Shephard was a college student and track athlete from Cavalier, N.D., who was in suburban Philadelphia on a short business trip with Daktronics Inc., a South Dakota-based company that makes stadium scoreboards. Smithson was a local manager for the company.

There is a gag order in effect barring Smithson's attorney G. Guy Smith, Covington's attorney Steve Leach and Assistant District Attorney Thomas Lawrie, as well as anybody else connected with the Smithson case, from making any out-of-court comments.

A Saint Joseph's spokeswoman says Covington, who did fundraising, no longer works there.