The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 24, 2012

Blair County murder victims well known

A local truck driver. A longtime Blair County car dealership manager who loved playing cards.  

And a onetime Pepsi worker who restored tractors and enjoyed making his own ice cream.

The Geeseytown community lost all three Friday in what investigators have described as a Hollidaysburg man’s inexplicable rampage.

On Sunday, the small town was just beginning to pick up the pieces, John Bolger said.

“This just rocked everyone,” said Bolger, whose Williamsburg funeral home handled arrangements for all three – Kenneth Lynn, 60; William Rhodes Jr., 38; and Kimberly Scott, 58.

“I don’t think anyone ever expected something like this could happen here,” Bolger said.

Jeffrey Lee Michael, 44, of Hollidaysburg, allegedly was the gunman in all three murders.

He also fired at police Friday morning, injuring three officers before he was shot and killed by troopers, according to the Blair County’s district attorney’s office.

By then, he had fatally gunned down Lynn in his driveway, crashed his vehicle into Rhodes’ truck – and then fatally shot him, too, police said.

Scott was killed at a church, where she was decorating for a party, police said.

Police and prosecutors are still trying to figure out what set off the rampage and why the victims were targeted.

Bob Socie of Lakemont, a

longtime friend of Michael’s, told The (Altoona) Mirror that Michael had struggled for years with stress stemming from two accidents involving his tractor-trailer and an acrimonious divorce and custody battle.

“Jeff was just a really nice guy. He never wanted to hurt anybody,” he said. “He was a gun enthusiast, but he never flaunted them, never shoved them in people’s faces.”

Socie said Michael had become increasingly fascinated by end-of-the-world speculation related to biblical prophecy as well as an ancient Mayan calendar that some said focused on Dec. 21, the date of the shootings.

He said Michael called him before leaving the house on Friday and told him to turn on the TV, saying: “The war is right here. The hour is here. ... If I don’t talk to you again, next time I talk to you will be with the Lord.”

Bolger said the victims were well-known in their community.

Bolger said Scott was a close friend to his wife, Connie.

For 35 years they took turns hosting card games with friends, and they annually vacationed together at a New Jersey beach house, Bolger added.

“Kim was swept away from them,” he said.

Scott leaves behind a husband, Ed, a son, and three grandchildren, her obituary shows.

Lynn, a Roaring Spring native, spent the past four years working for Grannas Bros.

He is survived by a son and daughter, five grandchildren and a wife of 39 years, Rose. His death prompted a 5-year-old great nephew, Owen Dively, to wonder “Who is going to take care of (her)?” according to his obituary.

Rhodes is survived by a wife of 13 years, Jennifer, and two children.

A Grannas truck driver, he enjoyed pitching horseshoes and time spent fishing and hunting outdoors, his obituary said.

Bolger described all three as “churched.”

“They were all spiritual people,” he added.

Bolger said hundreds of local residents attended a vigil for Scott on Sunday – many of them whose lives were also touched by Lynn or Rhodes – or both.

Services for Lynn and Rhodes are scheduled for Friday.

The community is like “one big family, helping one another cope right now,” he added.

It’s all anyone can do right now, he noted.

“This tragic event ... makes the world seem much smaller,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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