Volunteer brutally assaulted outside Lehigh Co. church

EMERALD, Pa. - March 11, 2014

Investigators say it was a Good Samaritan driving by the church on Saturday who found the victim and called 911.

46-year-old Troy Markell was on the ground, badly injured and unconscious. Not much else is known because the victim has no memory of what happened.

Markell remains hospitalized, where he is being treated for serious head injuries. As he recovers from a fractured skull, swelling of the brain, and a broken cheek, he underwent surgery Monday to reconstruct his right eye socket.

Three days later his wife is still wondering what happened.

Dee Markell, Troy's wife, tells Action News, "We don't know if this is something where it was a random attack, intentional attack, or...will they do it again? That's our fear."

What Dee knows for sure is that at the time her husband was shoveling snow from the handicap spaces outside St. Peter's United Methodist Church in the town of Emerald in Lehigh County, where the Markell's are active members.

The question local police are trying to answer now is, was Troy Markell the victim of a hit-and-run or a brutal beating?

Dee Markell believes she knows the answer.

"We really believe that he was attacked from behind while he was shoveling snow at our church."

And that raises another question - why?

By all accounts Troy Markell doesn't have an enemy in the world. Church Pastor Bill Ritzenthaler says Markell is one of those rare people who put the needs of others before his own.

Ritzenthaler tells us, "He's always there to help, and he never makes anybody feel like he's doing something for them. He makes it feel like they're doing something for him."

And Dee admits that her husband's gentle spirit is what makes this situation even tougher to comprehend.

"He just would do anything for you. [If] you need something, he gave it. You wanted help, he did it. He was just always there for everybody," his wife said.

Markell remains hospitalized tonight, but he'll likely be moved to a rehabilitation facility on Wednesday.

Anyone with information pertaining to the incident is asked to call the Pennsylvania State Police in Bethlehem.

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