Man kidnaps coworker, forces him to withdraw money at ATM, then kills him

Michael Allen Stark, 49, was accused by prosecutors in Bucks County, Pennsylvania of kidnapping and murdering his coworker Matthew James Branning, 50, on Thursday. It is reported that Stark also forced Branning to withdraw money from an ATM. According to authorities, Stark went to the workplace of Enchlor Inc. in Silverdale, Pennsylvania, on the day of Branning’s disappearance. He had not shown up for his shift that day, yet he used an Uber to get there. Evidence shows that shortly after Branning’s shift ended, he was captured on surveillance footage withdrawing money from a drive-thru ATM in Sellersville. At 4:07 PM, Branning’s 2002 Lexus SUV was seen with someone partially visible in the back seat.

Toll and mobile phone evidence suggested that Branning’s vehicle had gone into Central New Jersey at around 5 PM. His bank account was then allegedly used at a gas station in Somers Point at 7:05 PM. Authorities noted that there was more than an hour and a half of unaccounted for time in the Somers Point area until both Stark’s and Branning’s cell phone data was tracked to a Wawa in Cape May two hours later. Stark was captured on surveillance video making a purchase at 9:27 PM, yet Branning was not seen in the footage. An employee at the store said Stark had bought a car charger and USB cable.

Moreover, Branning’s disappearance was considered out of character by authorities. His family and boss stated that he was very loyal and never missed work without informing someone beforehand. In December, Branning’s vehicle was found in Falls Church, Virginia, and forensic evidence inside was linked to Stark. Moreover, crack vials linked to the drug market at McPherson Square were discovered.

Stark was arrested in April 2022 in Wayne County, Michigan for a warrant out of Monroe County, Pennsylvania and was extradited to Pennsylvania on July 27, 2022. Records show he pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and was given a sentence ranging from 311 days to one year, 11 months, and 30 days in prison.