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December 31, 2012

2012 fatalities remain under investigation

— Police, the district attorney’s office and the county coroner started the new year investigating unsolved fatalities from last year.

The investigations include a homicide in Lower Yoder Township and the mysterious death of a man found in Old Conemaugh Borough, both in July, and a fatal crash in Richland Township in June.

Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Heath Long said he expects 2013 to be another busy year for criminal investigators.

“We never lack for work,” he said.

One of the investigations involves Vincent Bloom, 38, of the 100 block of Norton Road. He was beaten, robbed and set on fire July 20 as he worked in his garage, West Hills Regional police said.

Police said Bloom told them two black men, both wearing hoods, walked in at 11 p.m., struck him on the head with a handgun and then tied him up with an electrical cord after he fell to the floor.

The robbers took his money, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire before fleeing. Bloom said he was able to free himself and turned on a garden hose to put out the fire. Family members heard his cries for help and telephoned authorities. Bloom died a week later at West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh with third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body. Police are investigating the death as a homicide.

“We’re still waiting on some DNA evidence from the crime lab,” West Hills police Sgt. George Musulin III said. “We anticipate charges will be filed very soon.”

Musulin declined to give details of the investigation but said charges were “imminent.”

Other investigations:

Two people died on June 11 in a two-vehicle crash on Frankstown Road in Richland. Police said Austin Molinich, 18, of Summerhill, was driving a 2005 Silverado pickup when it crossed the center line, colliding with a 1982 Volkswagen pickup.

The crash killed Donald Evans Sr., 71, of Conemaugh Township, Cambria County, and his granddaughter, 19-year-old Cassandra Singer of Northumberland County. No charges have been filed.

“Drugs and alcohol are not suspected and we do not consider speed is a factor at this point,” Officer Richard Pollino said at the time.

The investigation isn’t expected to be complete until sometime in January, Long said.

“The reconstruction is complete but the investigation is not,” he said. Police are still investigating details of what led to the crash, he said.

Authorities have yet to determine the cause of death of a man whose body was found near the former King Furniture building on Adams Street in Johnstown.

The body of 57-year-old Robert Berkheimer was found July 19. The death was ruled suspicious. Berkheimer lived near Railroad and Clinton streets. His body was found in that vicinity on a walkway between two buildings.

“It’s still under investigation,” Cambria County Coroner Dennis Kwiatkowski said.

Kwiatkowski said he had hoped the investigation would have been concluded by year’s end.

City police and the district attorney’s office are reviewing the case, he said.

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