The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 24, 2013

MORNING BRIEFING: Arrest made in young Philly doctor's killing

A.P. briefs from around the state


Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — An arrest has been made in the slaying of a young doctor found bound and burned inside her downtown Philadelphia home. Police say she'd been strangled.

Police spokeswoman Officer Tanya Little said Thursday morning that a person is in custody. Authorities did not immediately release details on the charges being filed or the person's name.

The burning body of 35-year-old Melissa Ketunuti was found in her basement Monday afternoon, with her ankles and wrists bound. She was a second-year infectious-diseases fellow and researcher at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The police department says it will be releasing updated information on the case Thursday.

Investigators had been viewing surveillance video from security cameras near Ketunuti's home to see if she was being followed.

 

$600 lost at courthouse was claimed by wrong man

PITTSBURGH — Sheriff's deputies say $600 lost by a man who went to a western Pennsylvania courthouse to pay child support has been "found" — illegally — by the wrong man.

Allegheny County sheriff's Lt. Jack Kearney says a man mistakenly forgot the envelope containing the money when he emptied his pockets to go through a metal detector at the courthouse in Pittsburgh on Friday.

About 90 minutes later, another man approached a deputy manning the detector and claimed to have forgotten the money. Only trouble is, the man to whom the money really belonged returned later to claim it, only to learn that it was already claimed by the other man.

Deputies are reviewing court logs and surveillance video to determine who illegally claimed the money. That person could be charged with theft.

 

4 PSU cheerleaders removed for rules violations

STATE COLLEGE — Four Penn State cheerleaders are off the squad because the university says they violated unspecified team rules.

The Centre Daily Times reports the school would not say when the violations occurred or when the students were taken off the team. University spokeswoman Lisa Powers would confirm only that the school took disciplinary action against the four students.

It wasn't clear if the discipline was connected to the investigation of an incident in October in which a cheerleader was badly injured after falling about 40 feet from the window of an apartment building.

State College police have said foul play is not suspected, but that alcohol was apparently being served to minors at a party in the room from which 19-year-old freshman Paige Raque fell.

 

PSU names college official as integrity officer

STATE COLLEGE — Penn State University has named an eastern Pennsylvania college administrator to be its first athletics integrity officer.

Julie Del Giorno has been chief of staff at Moravian College and its theological seminary. School officials say she'll begin her new job at Penn State on April 1. The post was created in the wake of the sex abuse scandal surrounding former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.

Officials say Del Giorno will oversee compliance involving integrity, civility, ethics and institutional control at Penn State.

She has held coaching positions at the University of Central Arkansas and positions at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. From 1986 to 1995, she also served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.

Sandusky was convicted in June of 45 counts of child sex abuse.

 

Jurors could hear from accused priest, ex-teacher

PHILADELPHIA — A Roman Catholic priest and ex-teacher charged with sexually assaulting an altar boy could testify Thursday as the two-week Philadelphia trial nears an end.

The case hinges on the credibility of the accuser, a 24-year-old policeman's son and longtime heroin addict.

His accounts of being raped in about 1999 by the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, teacher Bernard Shero and a now-defrocked priest have changed significantly over time.

A church social worker has testified that the accuser initially said he'd been violently attacked for hours by one man, punched by another, and tied up by a third.

But jurors heard none of that when the accuser testified last week.

His claims are the basis of the landmark child-endangerment conviction last year of Monsignor William Lynn, a former church official in Philadelphia.

 

FirstEnergy to dump slurry in reclaimed Fayette mine

PITTSBURGH — FirstEnergy Corp. still plans to close a coal slurry dump along the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border, but now says it will ship the coal byproducts to a mine reclamation project in Fayette County, instead of building a new, state-of-the-art dump next to a coal-fired power plant.

Akron-based FirstEnergy last year announced it was replacing the 1,700-acre Little Blue Run slurry dump in Beaver County with a lined depository that will keep the pollutants from getting into the groundwater. The current dump doesn't have a lining because that wasn't required when it opened in 1974.

The slurry comes from the Bruce Mansfield coal-fired power plant about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

But now FirstEnergy says it will be cheaper to ship the slurry by barge to a mine reclamation project in LaBelle, Fayette County.

That will begin in 2017.

 

Uniontown school superintendent will work for free

UNIONTOWN — A Fayette County school district superintendent who stayed on the job for free to help guide a $60 million building project has decided to work without pay for three more years.

Charles Machesky says he doesn't have any hobbies and likes to travel, but can't do that continually, so he's decided to keep working for the Uniontown Area School District — sans his $122,000 salary.

He officially "retired" last April, but agreed to work for free through March because of the building project. But as that deadline loomed, the 59-year-old educator decided he didn't want to stop working.

Machesky says he simply wants to serve the city where he grew up and formerly served as mayor.

The school board has agreed to extend Machesky's unpaid contract through March 2016.

 

Masked gunman dead, 2 men shot in Pittsburgh robbery

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police say a masked gunman has been fatally shot by one of two young men who were wounded when the gunman tried to force his way into their home and rob them.

Police and the Allegheny County medical examiner have yet to name the gunman because he had no identification when he was shot just after 6 p.m. Wednesday in the city's Garfield neighborhood.

That's when police say the man knocked on the door while the two young men inside were playing a video game. When one answered the door, he was shot in the face and the gunman then fired other shots at the other young man in the home, who returned fire and killed the gunman.

Police have not identified the robbery victims or released their conditions.

 

Fired guard still on stand; closings soon

PITTSBURGH — A fired Pittsburgh state prison guard was still being cross-examined about charges that he physically and sexually abused inmates who were gay or serving sentences for child molestation, though closing arguments were expected to begin soon thereafter.

Allegheny County prosecutors plan to call some brief rebuttal witnesses after 61-year-old Harry Nicoletti wraps up his testimony Thursday.

After the rebuttal witnesses, attorneys will argue to the jury why Nicoletti should or should not be convicted of 80 counts, including several each of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and institutional sexual assault.

Twenty inmates have testified about the abuse. Nicoletti and his attorney contend the charges are the product of the prison's inmate rumor mill or sour grapes on the part of lying inmates who don't like guards.

 

Hundreds of homes without gas in eastern Pa.

COPLAY — A utility is working to restore gas service to hundreds of homes in two communities in eastern Pennsylvania as the region battles a brutal cold spell.

UGI said late Wednesday night that it was in the final stages of trying to restore service to about 1,000 homes in Coplay and North Whitehall. Officials say that in order to restore service they had to turn off natural gas service at each individual home.

UGI spokesman Joe Swope said service had been restored to about half the affected customers by 7 a.m. Thursday. He says the utility hopes to have the rest back later in the morning.

The American Red Cross has also set up a shelter in the area. It's expected to be open until around midday Thursday.