|Easton District Magistrate Gay Elwell, |
seen at the ground breaking ceremony for
the Karl Stirner Arts Trail in 2011
Elwell, 54, was found dead in her home Monday afternoon after not appearing at court offices in the morning, said a court clerk reached by phone. The court was open as usual in the morning, but was closed later in the day after Northampton County Coroner Zachary Lysek informed clerks of her death.
The cause of death is unknown, but is likely to be announced shortly through the coroner's office, the clerk said. She added the judge had not recently suffered any illness or health problems.
"We're just in shock," she said.
Elwell, a College Hill resident and former newspaper reporter, had served as a district judge in Easton since 1996, when she was appointed to the post. She was first elected to the position in 1997 and served as a local magistrate ever since.
A number of Easton Police vehicles were seen outside the court offices, located on the corner of South Fourth and Northampton streets late Monday. The clerk said the various officers had been stopping by to offer support and condolences since the news broke.
District Court #03-2-05 will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 4, and some cases are likely to be rescheduled, but other county judges will be covering Elwell's court load until a new judge is appointed for Elwell's district, officials say.
Viewing and funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Elwell was married to Karl Stirner, a noted Easton artist and long-time local art supporter. An arts and nature trail along the Bushkill Creek was named in his honor last year.
Updated, Monday, Dec. 3 at 8:04 p.m.