Love, loss and murder? The story behind Monday’s Centre County trial

Matthew Dreibelbis enters the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte in August 2017 for his preliminary hearing on murder charges.
Matthew Dreibelbis enters the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte in August 2017 for his preliminary hearing on murder charges. Centre Daily Times, file

At first, Jeremy Cantolina was going through his daily routine.

He would start his truck, transfer two car seats to his wife’s vehicle and go to work at the Hanson Quarry.

After his shift, he would go to Brother’s Pizza in Wingate to transfer the car seats again while his wife of about 10 years, Amber Cantolina, was working there.

The two were raising four children together.

One of those same car seats, however, was covered in his blood on Aug. 11, 2017, because Matthew Dreibelbis allegedly acted on a murderous plot he developed over the previous four weeks.

Dreibelbis’ trial is scheduled to begin Monday, which serves as the culmination of a “long-term extramarital affair.”

Cantolina was found lying between two vehicles at 211 N. Moshannon Ave. in Snow Shoe by a woman who was walking her dog. Police eventually arrived, removed his hat and found a gun shot wound on the top of his head.

State Police investigate the scene at 200 Moshannon Avenue in Snow Shoe on Friday morning.

Dreibelbis was connected to Cantolina’s death when Amber Cantolina told police she conceived a child with Dreibelbis while she and her husband were separated.

She also told police Dreibelbis said he wanted to kill her husband “multiple times” during their affair.

Police also spoke with a woman who described herself as a mediator between the two and said she saw Dreibelbis wearing gloves to clean each bullet in a .38-caliber Comanche revolver.

Investigators eventually interviewed Dreibelbis, who allegedly said he was lying awake at about 2 a.m. and contemplated killing Cantolina. He eventually drove to Clarence Archery at about 4 a.m. before walking to the Cantolinas’ home.

“While he was sitting there, he kind of thought more about, ‘What am I doing? Am I really going to do this?’” state police at Rockview trooper Jeffrey Ebeck testified during Dreibelbis’ preliminary hearing. “(He) thought about the victim, thought about the victim’s wife and the children and then moved himself to an area around the front of the garage closer to the vehicle.”

Police say Dreibelbis then “confronted” Cantolina in the driveway, fired one round to scare him and confessed to firing a second round that killed Cantolina.

In trying to understand the “why” behind the alleged confession, Ebeck asked if he “killed for love” — Dreibelbis agreed.

The trial is scheduled for five days and will be the second time this year District Attorney Bernie Cantorna seeks a murder conviction against a man represented by attorney Karen Muir.

She also represented George Ishler Jr., who was convicted of murdering Penn State professor Ronald Bettig alongside Danelle Geier.