Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unsolved Murders 1976-1977 #3-Washington PA

I have written on this blog about the unsolved murder of Sharon Blankenbeckler in 1977, Marion VA: http://cindygoff.blogspot.com/2011/11/murder-of-sharon-blankenbeckler.html

I have started searching for other unsolved murders within a year of her disappearance, March 10, 1977. She disappeared from the K-Mart parking lot in Marion VA which is right off Highway 81. Is it possible she was the victim of a serial killer who was passing through?

The Following is from http://www.skcentral.com/articles.php?article_id=555

In a period of seven months, between November 1976 and June 1977, young women were raped and murdered within a 25-mile radius of Washington, Pennsylvania, their killer striking with impunity and leaving homicide investigators at a loss for clues. Despite a fair description of the suspect, published in the form of artist's sketches, there were no arrests, and none are now anticipated in a case that terrorized the peaceful border region, holding women prisoners of fear inside their homes.
The first to die was 21-year-old Susan Rush, a native of Washington County, found strangled and locked in the trunk of her car on November 25, 1976. Detectives noted that her body had been "hastily clothed," her bra and panties left on the front seat, and a post mortem examination confirmed that the victim was raped prior to death.
On February 13, 1977, 16-year-old Mary Gency was reported missing from her home in North Charleroi. She had gone out for a walk after supper and never returned, her body recovered three days later from the woods at Fallowfield Township. Gency was beaten to death with a blunt instrument, raped before death by an assailant the county coroner described as "a mad animal."
Debra Capiola, 17, was last seen alive on March 17, walking to meet her school bus in nearby Imperial, in Allegheny County. She never arrived at school, and searchers found her body in a wooded section of northwestern Washington County on March 22. Capiola had been raped before she was strangled with her own blue jeans, the pants left wrapped around her neck.
Two months later, on the afternoon of May 19, 18-year-old Brenda Ritter was found dead at South Strabane Township, in Washington County. Nude except for shoes and stockings, she had been raped, then strangled with a piece of her own clothing, tightened around her throat with a stick.

15 comments:

  1. i remember theses murders,they thought a cop or someone dressed like a cop was doing the murders.one cop killed himself after that the murders stoped,so either he did it or the real murder quit at that time his name was pie johns they talked about him saying thats why he killed himself

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  2. I also remember these murders. I heard at the time something about a blue vw. You would think that with todays technology that these cases would be looked at by a cold case unit. I know of a few people that owned a blue vw at the time and one of them was also a state policeman.

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  3. I also remember, I often wondered if the murderer was ever caught. Which is how I just found this site, just now thinking about that time. I had a friend that was questioned by the police..........scary times

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  4. The murders of Mary Gency and Debra Capiola have been solved. It was two different men and the killings were not related. Both men are in jail at this time.

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    1. Do you have dates snd names of those convicted. Thanks.

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  5. When can the victims achieve justice if this unsolved murders continue. God help us all. The world isn't safe anymore we need to be extra careful nowadays. workmans comp medford oregon, workmans compensation medford

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  6. I have looked off and on over the years for info on the Washington murders. I lived 2 blocks from Susan growing up and worked at the mall the same time she went missing. She was a very nice person and it was shocking what happened to her. We all had escorts to our cars and every girl/woman was scared of being next. Women were told if you were being pulled over it was ok to put on our flashers and drive to a place with good lighting and well populated so we could feel safe. That is something that even after all these years I taught my own daughters. Also that a good police officer should and would not have a problem with you doing that. I've thought of the murders over the years and anytime I hear of a murder similar to Washingtons if the perv is still out there getting away with it. Thank you for posting about it. It changed the way alot of us looked at life in our little Washington.

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  7. I absolutely believe that the 2 other girls were killed by one person who was a police officer. Back in the 70's, when officers took their cruisers home it was not uncommon to use them for daily use, trips to the store, to pick up family members etc. I know a man (loosely used term for him) that was a police officer (wouldn't have made a pimple on a good cops ass) for one of the surburban towns in the County of Washington during this time. His wife worked for some time at the Washington Mall and other retail stores surrounding the mall until she retired in the early 90's. When this man & his family moved into our neighborhood in the late 70's, for many years I was friends with his daughter. He always talked about taking the police cruiser to the Washington Mall (which he didn't need to be there as it was no where near his jurisdiction), about how young girls did not need boyfriends at such young ages. That all they could expect was to get pregnant. He creeped me out as a young kid the age of 11/12. I went with my gut, even at a young age & was very leary of him. I remember even telling my Parents of the things he said, not only to me, but also his daughter & our other young friends. It was common for him to take his daughter and her friends (sometimes I included if I felt comfortable) to the South Strabane / Washington Mall area. He was looked at years ago in regards to the Debbie Capiola murder (my older sister would have graduated with High School with her). I swore to myself, even at that age, that they would not only find Debbie's Murderer(s) but that one day the murders of these young women would be solved as well. As we entered our teen years, he came to hate me, as I told him the one time he laid his hand on my knee, "that if he ever touched me again, I'd f**king kill him". This man was forced to resign from the local police department, after one of my & his daughters mutual friends went to her mother & admitted that this man, in his 50's at the time, was hitting on her, had bought her cigarettes, boose, clothes. This friend liked a neighbor boy, she was 15 & he was 16. Totally innocent, however when this man found out that they would hang out together, he threatened to tell her mother and he forced his daughter to threaten her as well. His daughter admitted in her latter teens to my family that her father had sexually abused her. This man use to write letter to my best friend who was 15 at the time (he in his 50's) & tell her how beautiful she was, that he wanted to take her away. Sick, child molesting piece of scum! I read an article a few years in the back in the Observer Reporter about Susan Rush & Brenda Ritter in which they say they believed that the same person(s) committed these crimes. That if anyone have information to contact an Officer. I still have the article in my bedroom at home. I sought often to call the Police that were associated with the article, however out of fear of retribution, whether I was correct or incorrect, I did not. This heinous evil man recently passed away & I cannot forgive myself for not contacting police. I do not know if I should retrieve the article, contact them & see if they will exhume him. Or let it go & those family members that are still alive will never know what happened to their precious daughters, sisters, cousins?

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    1. HI, I READ UR ARTICLE. MY NAMES LARRY BONAZZA, I WAS BRENDAS BOYFRIEND AT THE TIME OF HER MURDER. CAN U PROVIDE ME WITH SOME OF THE INFORMATION U OBTAINED. I'M CURRENTLY EMPLOYED AS A POLICE OFFICER. U CAN CONTACT ME THRU MY EMAIL bobo15347@comcast.net

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  8. I think you should say something. It's obviously been bothering you and the victims' families would want to know

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  9. Within three days of Brenda's brutal rape and murder the acting sheriff of Washington County, Hanna "Pie" Johns, was summoned and interrogated by Pennsylvania State Police. Eyewitnesses had reported Johns' squad car parked directly behind Brenda's car on Roup Rd. at about 10:30 PM on the night of the murder--exactly where Brenda's car was found the next day. Approximately three days after Johns was first interrogated the State police asked to question him again--on a Tuesday morning--at which point in time he chose to return to his home and commit suicide.

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  10. I watch true crime shows a lot. Why can't a DNA test be done now to find out these two murders? They've done tests on cold cases and solved them.

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  11. I thought he killed himself at the court house in front of his secretary .

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  12. why was nothing ever done about this or his home or office searched

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  13. you are incorrect about the location and who found the body of Hanna Johns. You just have to read the old papers and realize people just make up what they want

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