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Thread: WV/PA- Sr Roberta Elam, 26, Wheeling, June 13, 1977 Catholic Nun

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by meachchar View Post
    I ran across an article written about these murders that had this quote:

    Ashton said DNA evidence has linked unknown men to the 1976 strangulation of 21-year-old Susan Rush in Washington County and the 1977 rape and strangulation near Wheeling of Roberta Ann Elam, a 26-year-old postulate nun.

    It is interesting that Susan Rush was killed on her way to church. Her family is quoted as saying she was a very devout young woman.

    Perhaps this will eventually lead to some resolution in these cases.

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  3. #27
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    http://www.post-gazette.com/neigh_wa...over0928p1.asp
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    Unknown Suspect dubbed the Pennsylvania Strangler (1976-1977)


    In a period of seven months, between November 1976 and June 1977, five young women were raped andmurdered 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.


    In June, the killer strayed from Pennsylvania, but he did not travel far. His final victim was Roberta Elam, 26, a novice at Mount St. Joseph Mother House, in Oglebay Park, West Virginia, near Wheeling. Preparing to take her vows as a nun, Elam's career was cut short by the savage who raped and strangled her on June 13, dumping her corpse within 75 yards of the convent.


    On the afternoon of June 15, authorities released a sketch of a longhaired suspect seen near the Ritter homicide scene, but none of the resultant tips proved fruitful. When the murder series ended, as mysteriously as it had begun, police could only speculate about the strangler's identity and whereabouts.


    Unless deceased or jailed on unrelated charges, he is still at large today.
    An article in the local edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 5, 2003, identifies Debbie Capiola's killer as David Robert Kennedy, a man who stalked Capiola and later the female PA state trooper who investigated the case.

    LE has pretty well proved that Kennedy was not responsible for the murders of Mary Irene Gency (the 2003 article said there was a suspect in that case) or the Susan Rush murder. I did the research on this last year and haven't seen an update since, but I will look.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/neigh_wa...over0928p1.asp

    http://www.pittsburghpostgazette.com...over1005p2.asp

  4. #28
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    Here's a link to a transcript in which the WVa state police cold case investigator Danny Swiger (menitioned above) discusses the Robin Elam case.

    http://missingpiecesshow.homestead.c...50Archive.html

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    potential murderer

    Pittsbughgirl-
    You said you have done some research on the so-called "Pennsylvania Strangler", so you may be interested in exploring a little more.

    I have been looking into the unsolved homicide of my step-father's daughter in New Castle, PA which occurred in 1975. One of the prime suspects in the murder is currently serving life in prison at SCI Greene for the 1978 double homicide of a young mother and her four year old daughter. My step father's daughter was four years old and was murdered along with her babysitter. The two murders occurred just a few miles from each other (yeah, I know, I asked the State Police why, back in 1980 when they arrested Atkinson, they didn't explore the possibility that the crazy satan worshippers might have something to do with the OTHER senseless murder of a four year old and a grown woman in a very small town, but they just kind of blew me off).

    The 1978 murder victims were Kathy & Dawn Kadunce. The case was tried as a satanic ritual homicide and one of the perpetrators considered himself a high priest of satan (Frank Costal). Lots of press coverage, so if you ever look at newspapers from the past you should have no trouble reading up on it. I belong to newspapers archives.com and have gotten lots of info, but the New Castle News is only on-line up to 1977 so the coverage I have found is not as detailed as I would like.

    Both homicides were done in a "group" and there seems to be some confusion among police as to who exactly was present. Michael Atkinson testified in the Kadunce trial (January 1981) and he changed his story numerous times. One of the men Atkinson claims was present at the Kadunce homicide allegedly committed suicide 3 months prior to Atkinson's arrest, leaving a type-written note before putting a bullet in his head. It is interesting to note that the victims of all the "satanic" homicides got a bullet in the head. Atkinson also claimed the husband, Larry Kadunce, was at the homicdes. Kadunce was arrested after Atkinson went to prison and was acquitted of the murders one year later. Kadunce still lives in the area.

    Considering that Roberta Elam was a nun and Susan Rush was devoutly religious, I have been doing research to the best of my ability (I am out of state) trying to find any possible connection with Atkinson and his group of friends. I figured perhaps the psycho satan worshippers might get off on killing a nun. There is no evidence at all that there is any connection. However, Atkinson is a convicted rapist and a multiple murderer. He was also convicted of the murder of his landlady Rose Puz in January 1980.

    Most likely, it is just a coincidence that a homicidal psychopath (that is how Atkinson is repeatedly described to me by police, lawyers, and anyone who knew him) lived in Ellwood City during the time that all these women were killed. It may also be a coincidence that this psychopath hung out with a group of guys who considered themselves satan worshippers and who committed horrible crimes, including but not limited to, violent rape and murder. It has been noted that the DNA from victim to victim excludes only one man committing all these crimes. Now police have proven that Elam and Rush were committed by the same guy.

    Michael Atkinson was and is a dangerous, troubled, violent man. He also was convicted of many crimes but was ALWAYS WITH OTHER GUYS who helped him commit them. Consider this about Atkinson:

    • He was convicted of various arson charges in 1972 (I can find no details, just the docket entry of the courts)
    • He is strongly believed to have committed the violent double homicide of a four year old girl and her babysitter in November 1975
    • He was convicted of a rape he committed with another man in September 1978
    • He was convicted of the July 1978 double homicide of Kathy Kadunce and her four year old daughter Dawn
    • He was convicted of the murder of 83 year old Rose Puz, his landlady, in January 1980. I believe she was strangled, but I am not 100% certain. She was also set on fire.
    I find it odd and very difficult to believe he went from arson to double homicide with nothing in between from 1972 to 1975, then again nothing until July 1978, followed by a rape in September 1978, and murder again in January 1979. I think the police are missing a few pieces.

    Any of you web sleuths in Western PA interested in doing some research? Don't bother talking to the authorities. They will not discuss the open homicide cases. You can reach me at asudevil1642@yahoo.com



    Quote Originally Posted by pittsburghgirl View Post
    Here's a link to a transcript in which the WVa state police cold case investigator Danny Swiger (menitioned above) discusses the Robin Elam case.

    http://missingpiecesshow.homestead.c...50Archive.html

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  7. #30
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    1975 New Castle Murder?

    Quote Originally Posted by meachchar View Post
    ...I have been looking into the unsolved homicide of my step-father's daughter in New Castle, PA which occurred in 1975. ...
    Is this case posted anywhere in the forum? What was the date and what is known about the case?

  8. #31
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    Bumping case up...

  9. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by meachchar View Post
    I have been looking into the unsolved homicide of my step-father's daughter in New Castle, PA which occurred in 1975. One of the prime suspects in the murder is currently serving life in prison at SCI Greene for the 1978 double homicide of a young mother and her four year old daughter.
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    Is this case posted anywhere in the forum? What was the date and what is known about the case?
    Richard, you might have found this by now, but I think meachchar must have been referring to this:
    In early November of 1975, my mother's cousin - 37 year old Beverly A. (Morris) Withers was babysitting 4 year old Melanie Gargasz at the Gargasz house in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. [snip] When Melanie's mother, Marilyn, returned home in the early afternoon, she found both Beverly and Melanie dead, from multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
    http://joysofliving.blogspot.com/200...r-in-1975.html

  10. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by meachchar View Post
    I ran across an article written about these murders that had this quote:

    Ashton said DNA evidence has linked unknown men to the 1976 strangulation of 21-year-old Susan Rush in Washington County and the 1977 rape and strangulation near Wheeling of Roberta Ann Elam, a 26-year-old postulate nun.

    It is interesting that Susan Rush was killed on her way to church. Her family is quoted as saying she was a very devout young woman.
    I read that differently. The use of "men" lead me to believe there is one person for each case, not the same person(s) for both cases. I don't think they are saying it is the same killer. IMO. Hopefully DNA will bring about results for all these old cases. I hate to think where we would be without DNA testing.

  11. #34
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    Breaking news! Two arrested for the murder of Mary Gency

    Quote Originally Posted by pittsburghgirl View Post
    http://www.post-gazette.com/neigh_wa...over0928p1.asp

    An article in the local edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 5, 2003, identifies Debbie Capiola's killer as David Robert Kennedy, a man who stalked Capiola and later the female PA state trooper who investigated the case.

    LE has pretty well proved that Kennedy was not responsible for the murders of Mary Irene Gency (the 2003 article said there was a suspect in that case) or the Susan Rush murder. I did the research on this last year and haven't seen an update since, but I will look.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/neigh_wa...over0928p1.asp

    http://www.pittsburghpostgazette.com...over1005p2.asp
    I just saw it on the news. After 33 years they have arrested 2 men for her murder.
    I will post more later!
    Miracles do happen!!!
    This is strictly my opinion!
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  12. #35
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    News story is here:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10146/1060758-55.stm

    Arrest is as a result of DNA evidence.

    Case against the man originally arrested is as before, plus DNA.

    The boyfriend is also implicated because a witness places him in the co-accused's car at the time of his girlfriend's disappearance, and because his DNA was also found on Mary's underwear. He apparently had an alibi but this will now be tested. The boyfriend's DNA on girl's underwear wouldn't be unusual except he told investigators he hadn't had sexual contact with her for a month prior to her death - his family now says he was confused.

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  14. #36
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    Interesting

    In the original testimony, a witness said that Mary Irene Gency was last seen near a vehicle containing the two guys charged with Murder. One of them was either the current or ex boyfriend of the victim. The Witness also said that George Poskon was in the car. In 1996, Mr. Poskin was convicted of rape in an unrelated case in the same town. I see there is a person with same nale listed as having died.

    If he is still alive it sounds like it may be worth talking to him again as there may have been 3 people involved instead of just 2. It is surpising that they kept quiet for 33 years.

  15. #37
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    Finally this case has gone to trial. Testimony was 10/20 & 10/22/11 and today 10/24 the defense is making his case.

    I am a member of the family (relative) (should I get verified)? I wish I could be there today to know what is happening, but I live 7 hours from the trial location.

    If anyone is interested, I can provide links to the testimony, if that is permitted here.

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  17. #38
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    Halfway through reading this thread, I got confused.

    Who is in on trial and who was their victim? I'm interested in the Robin Elam case, but I'm lost with all the other names mentioned. So is it Robin Elam's murderer who is on trial?

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  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    Some more unsolved PA murders:

    Mary Grace Triolo 15
    A ninth grader in the Fairless School district, she was found strangled in Bristol PA on February 20 1965.

    Karen Monhollen 14
    Body found in Lima quarry in Middletown Township. No cause of death.

    Delores Dellapenna 17
    From Philadelphia PA, Wildwood
    Disappeared July 11th 1972 while walking to a trolley stop. Torso found July 22nd in Jackson Township N.J and legs found on July 29th, 1972 in Manchester N.J in wooded area.

    Patty Bartlett 17
    From Lower Makefield, PA
    Stabbed to death on January 13th 1975 at Oxford Valley Mall.

    Valerie Seibert 16
    From Philadelphia PA
    She was discovered on 4 March 1975 lying in a field near Second Street Pike and Swamp Road in Wrightstown by a farmer. Seibert, who was an 11th-grader at George Washington High School in Philadelphia, was missing for two days from her home in on Chilton Road in Northeast Philadelphia. Police also said they believed that Seibert was shot twice on the farm. The case is unsolved.

    Susan Rush 21
    From Washington PA
    Found in the trunk of her car in Washington PA, strangled. She was found on Feb 24th 1976.

    Brenda Lee Ritter 18
    Left her boyfriends house in Washington PA, her car was found the next day in South Strabane and her body was found the same day in North Strabane strangled, on May 18 1977.

    Joan Rasperger 15
    From Slickville, West Moreland County
    She was found in a wooded area. No cause of death. Nov 1977.

    I believe the Mary Grace Triolo case was solved back in 1965:

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...pg=764,2256290

    This is all I can find on it, though. No information on the disposition of the case.

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarthaM View Post
    Halfway through reading this thread, I got confused.

    Who is in on trial and who was their victim? I'm interested in the Robin Elam case, but I'm lost with all the other names mentioned. So is it Robin Elam's murderer who is on trial?
    They're talking about the murder of Mary Irene Gency. Her killer was convicted in October, 2011 of third-degree murder after a non-jury trial, and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison, the sentencing guidelines in effect at the the time of the crime (1977).

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/...aximum-224964/

    David Davoli, 54, of Charleroi, another longtime suspect, testified against Mr. Urwin and got a reduced sentence in a plea deal.

  21. #41
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    Justice Story: Killer priest murders nun in chapel sacristy, leaves demonic stab pattern over her heart

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/just...#ixzz27JkJ7Q5E

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  23. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blondie in Spokane View Post
    Justice Story: Killer priest murders nun in chapel sacristy, leaves demonic stab pattern over her heart

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/just...#ixzz27JkJ7Q5E
    Thread here:

    http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...hl#post7827370

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    What about Fr. Sabadish, suspect in the murder of two girls in PA? He was on leave during Robin's murder.

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    I don't understand why Robin's whole thread was moved to trials, when it's not her case at trial .. but YAY for another killer being brought to Justice.

    Sabadish was a real piece of work - major pedo, threatened women with rape.. suspect in little Carol Ann Dougherty's murder and his behaviour there was VERY suss..

    There was less 'ritual' aspect to Robin's death than the other murders-in-church-grounds that have happened. Quite different, I think.

    One thing I am noticing -- and I might be just linking things a bit wildly here - is that there seem to be a lot of murders around that part of the state involving hills, high ground, stones.. I must go back (over a literal ton of material, sigh) and see what I can find.

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