The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 16, 2009

Convicted killer back in custody

A convicted murderer who had walked away from a half-way house in Johnstown in September was apprehended in Cherry Tree, Indiana County, by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force on Friday, after a two-hour search in sub-zero temperatures.

Guy Robert Pastirko was sentenced in 1993 to 10 to 20 years in prison for the beating death and robbery of a northern Cambria County bartender.

Marshals, state police and state parole officers had been on the lookout for Pastirko since Sept. 12, when he walked away from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center on Washington Street.

Officers learned that he might be driving a white van and located a vehicle matching the description beside a trailer.

As officers approached the residence, Pastirko exited the rear of the trailer and fled on foot into the woods.

“He bolted out the back,” said David Zerjav, a U.S. marshal.

“It was about 5 degrees below zero with 10 inches of snow,” Zerjav said.

“We were out there probably two hours before we caught him.”

Pastirko pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the 1993 slaying of 46-year-old Robert Mikula of Carrolltown outside Bakerton VFW.

Pastirko, who was from Elmora, has a long criminal record.

Mikula’s death had outraged residents who sent 1,000 petitions to the judge in the case, asking for the maximum prison term allowed.

The victim was hit over the head several times with a piece of cement block as he closed the bar for the night on March 2, 1992.

Police estimated that $1,000 in bar receipts was stolen.

Pastirko is in the custody of the state Department of Corrections.

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