PA PA - Steven Russo, 48, Lancaster Township, 24 Nov 2010

Discussion in 'Resolved Cold Cases' started by Grifynne, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    This is a local case that occurred not too long ago in November of 2010, however I am not exactly sure where I should post this. If I am in the wrong place, then I apologize (please let me know where it should be). This case is somewhat personal for myself and my siblings because Steven Russo was our math teacher in high school, as well as many other high school students in my area. I am almost 30 now, but he was still a teacher at the time he was killed.

    I do not know every detail however my understanding of the case is that someone broke into Mr. Russo's home and shot him. There is speculation that something "off" is lurking just under the surface. Rumors of an underground life, drugs things like that and fingers pointed to a few of those that were apparently close to him at the time have emerged, although I hate to start posting rumors in case they are just that: rumors. So for now, I would like to present the information that is available and confirmed and ask if anyone finds anything, if they could share it or provide their opinions on the case.

    Here are some links to more information on the murder:

    http://www.wpxi.com/news/25909105/detail.html

    http://www.wtae.com/news/25911892/detail.html (this one has a photo of Mr. Russo).

    http://www.wfmj.com/story/13569324/seneca-valley-teacher-fround-dead-in-his-home?redirected=true

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2010/12/03/police-ask-for-help-in-teachers-murder/ (this article states that they were asking for any information on a pedestrian walking along a nearby highway)

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10329/1106136-54.stm

    The Facebook page mentioned in one of the news videos is also still available, but I am not sure if I can post that since it is not confirmed information (just a memorial page mostly). It is easy to find by searching for his name with "memorial."

    I find it strange that someone broke into his home the previous day but didn't take anything. This makes me think that someone had it out for him specifically rather than someone was walked in on during a botched robbery or something like that.

    Here is a video clip of a news segment covering the story as well:
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPwAtIgGbyQ"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPwAtIgGbyQ[/ame]

    Mr. Russo was relatively popular and well liked at Seneca Valley, and it is terrible to hear what has happened to him. Here you can also see where other students rated him as a teacher.

    Regardless of who he was after school hours, I hope that his case sees justice. He was cut down way too early in life. He could have lived on many decades to continue to be a part of his family and the students he taught at Seneca.
     
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  3. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    And anther news story (I believe this was the first one and the previous clip was an update)

    [video=youtube;my-LRAzgSg0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=my-LRAzgSg0&feature=relmfu[/video]
     
  4. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    Sadly, still no update.
     
  5. Feistyoldbroad

    Feistyoldbroad New Member

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    Thank you for posting about this. I am not far from Lancaster and hadn't heard anything about it. I hope they solve this.
    :(
     
  6. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    I keep hoping as well. I check for updates every now and again (and I am sure if something is aired on the news I will hear it from someone since he was a popular teacher in the local school district). Very sad and scary to think that someone who can kill another person is running free in this mostly quiet area.

    I hope they solve this and bring closure for friends, family and students who knew Mr. Russo.
     
  7. Pensfan

    Pensfan Former Member

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  8. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    I agree somewhat, Pensfan. Although I always wonder if there are good reasons for withholding some information. To be honest, I was very suspicious that it was someone Mr. Russo knew and that law enforcement may have some idea. I just wish something would happen so the individual is brought to justice. Here we are, moving into fall, and as far as I can tell there have been no updates.

    Mr. Russo was very well-liked. I had him, and I was terrible at math (but he still tolerated me :p). I still liked him as a person. He had a somewhat dry sense of humor that kept things interesting. My husband had him as well, I believe Mr. Russo used to call him "Frenchy" or something like that (it was a bit of an inside joke) so he was pretty upset when he heard about the murder.

    I guess everyone who knows someone who was murdered feels this way, but I'm going to say it anyway. Mr. Russo was a person, he touched many lives through his career (and I'm sure in his personal life). Whoever did this needs to face the consequences they are owed for taking a life way too soon.
     
  9. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    Still watching, still waiting, still nothing. Bumping for Mr. Russo and his loved ones.
     
  10. Pensfan

    Pensfan Former Member

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    Does anyone else hope this man, who is a suspect in a double homicide, should be investigated for Mr. Russo's murder?

    The homeless son of the Yeckel's (described as "dangerous-do not approach" by the police) was put in the psych hospital after he trashed the police interrogation room, but there is no telling how long it will be before he is released. There was an article about the son trashing the interrogation room, but now I can't find it.
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/valleynewsdispatch/s_755885.html

    May God comfort the family and friends of Mr. Russo.
     
  11. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    That is unsettling (as well as very tragic). I wonder if they have any way to track this individual's whereabouts around the time Mr. Russo was killed?

    When you say he trashed the interrogation room, do you mean when being interrogated about the death of his parents or was he actually brought in for Mr. Russo's case?

    I was always under the impression it was most likely someone he knew (be it someone who was close or a local acquaintance) but I haven't heard anything to eliminate the possibility that it was someone who he did not know. I think maybe I got that impression partly because there was mention of someone breaking into his house a day or 2 before the murder. The fact they returned kind of eliminates a botched robbery in my mind (because why would they come back, just get in, get something and run). Of course if this individual had mental issues and was known for hiding in the woods, perhaps he could have stalked around prior to the incident to see if he could get in and out.
     
  12. Pensfan

    Pensfan Former Member

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    I read that this homeless guy trashed the interrogation room while being interviewed about his parent's murder. This guy was then shipped off to UPMC Western Psych.

    The reason I thought about this guy and Mr. Russo was the proximity and the murder weapons. This guy was known to wander everywhere, was sufficiently dangerous to where LE told people to not approach him if they saw him after his parents were murdered, and he was known to like guns. A crazy man who is homeless might take an interest in an isolated home in his "wandering territory". ?? Having worked as a psych nurse, I feel the note found beside Mr. Russo could easily be the ramblings or rantings of a psychotic person, but who knows? LE should release the contents of that note to the public.
     
  13. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    That is very disconcerting. I really wonder what was in that note. The fact that so much time has passed and they haven't made an arrest makes me think they don't have enough to go on.

    Is it also possible that if the guy was sent to UPMC and is a solid suspect, that maybe they think they won't be able to get him anyway if they pursue it because he is not stable? Has that ever occurred before, where someone is already taken in like this guy was and another case is not pursued because they know they won't get him to serve time in jail anyway because of a mental condition? Was this guy officially convicted of his parent's murder or was he pretty much just tucked away where he could no longer threaten public safety?

    I would like to think that they would pursue it for the sake of family and friends who want a chance at justice and to know for sure who did this.
     
  14. Pensfan

    Pensfan Former Member

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    I can't find anything else about the son of the Yeckels on the internet. He may still be in Western Psych or maybe he is now wandering around near West Deer again. Unless the news didn't cover it, nobody has been arrested for the murder of the Yeckels and their mentally unstable son was a strong suspect. I checked Search National Records for this man's name and it shows that he has some offenses, but it doesn't list the date of the offenses, so I can't see if he was charged for their murder.

    I found that article about him trashing the police computers when taken in for questioning. It is the most recent article on the internet about him.
    http://209.166.135.25/x/valleynewsdispatch/s_756124.html

    I think that the police would want to officially close both of these murder cases and would charge this man for both crimes if evidence pointed towards him. Western Psych is a not a long term facility where he could be live. Almost all of the long term psych hospitals were shut down on a national level. When he leaves Western Psych he may or may not be mentally competent, but they would still charge him if the evidence fits.
     
  15. Insomnia Momma

    Insomnia Momma If not supported by a link it's just what I think!

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    I remember when this happened, it was all over the news. I really thought the police had a grip on it then. PA is notorious for not releasing information during investigations, I just wish that once a case was going cold they would release at least little tidbits to the public to try to get some help. I'm not talking about laying all of their cards on the table but a few would be nice.
     
  16. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    Ya, I pretty much thought the same thing as you Insomnia Momma. I was under the impression that they knew what was up, who was involved and it would probably be officially solved in a relatively short amount of time. Something would be nice, but it doesn't look like anyone is interested in sharing. Not that I watch the news religiously, but I haven't even seen the murder mentioned in a long long time.
     
  17. Pensfan

    Pensfan Former Member

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    Bumping for the family of Steve Russo.

    Why has no one been arrested for his murder?
     
  18. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    Pensfan (and everyone else), I saw an update on the Yeckel case. Looks like he's the suspect in the death of his parents and they have him in custody:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46907679/ns/local_news-pittsburgh_pa/#.T3Z1rqtSSSo


    http://www.wtae.com/video/30804850/detail.html

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/valleynewsdispatch/s_785463.html

    I wonder if there will possibly be any link to Mr. Russo's case in all of this? Either way it sounds absolutely tragic. This person definitely needed mental help and for whatever reason didn't get it:

    I'm not an expert, but his comment about being upset about his parents' death felt so... uncaring.
     
  19. Muttley

    Muttley New Member

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    My first post here! :woohoo:

    I have been reading this forum years and really didn't feel I had anything new to contribute. I just read this case and hope to help since it's in PA where I also live. I'm on the other side in suburbs of Phila, but hope I have a feel for PA enough to give some good input.

    First let me say from the feedback, that Mr Russo must have been a terrific guy, teacher, friend to the many he encountered. I remember my great teachers and STILL hear their voice or words in my head when I need advice, over 20 years later!

    First thing that jumped out at me was from this news article first posted:

    http://old.post-gazette.com/pg/10329/1106136-54.stm

    Mr. Russo had moved into the rented house in Lancaster earlier this year to live with his girlfriend, Heidi Smith, a second-grade teacher in the Mars Area Elementary School, said neighbor Tina Byrne.

    The home they shared is located in a relatively rural area north of Zelienople, abutting a narrow dirt road named Schott Lane.

    Tuesday, Mr. Russo had returned from school for lunch to discover an intruder, said Ms. Byrne.

    "He said that when he opened the door, he heard someone, and the person came running out of the house," Ms. Byrne said. "Just ran out of the house."

    Police soon arrived to investigate, she said.

    "Steve said nothing was missing from the house that he could see, except he couldn't find Heidi's cat," Ms. Byrne said. "That cat is like her baby."

    Then, Wednesday, Ms. Byrne received a frantic phone call from her children, off school for the holiday. More and more police were arriving at the Russo home, and police had cordoned off the property, they said.



    Interesting phrasing by Ms Byrne, relaying a story, surely told to her by Mr Russo:

    "He said that when he opened the door, he heard someone, and the person came running out of the house," Ms. Byrne said. "Just ran out of the house."

    The part they are shocked by is that the person "came running out of the house". This implies that he maybe ran right out the same door Mr Russo was entering, toward him. I think Mr Russo gave a description of this person to police later. After his murder the next day, Police are looking for someone who was walking past the Log Cabin Restaurant:

    "they are looking for a pedestrian who may have been walking on State Route 19 near the Log Cabin Restaurant on the mornings of Nov. 23 and 24th"

    http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2010/12/03/police-ask-for-help-in-teachers-murder/

    IMO LE is looking for someone who KNOWS this person walking past on these mornings and not just saw someone who fit the description.

    I have a much more and will add later, but we really could use more detail from LE on the case, the description, the letter, the bullet, etc.
     
  20. Grifynne

    Grifynne New Member

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    That's an interesting thought, Muttley. You may be on to something. Are you saying you think the person walking past is the potential suspect or that they may have seen the suspect? I wonder if that is an indication that it's definitely someone local.

    Would love to hear the rest of your thoughts on the case. I don't foresee LE releasing any more than they already have. I have heard very little about the case as of late. It's sad that someone so well-known in an otherwise quiet area can be killed and the killer is still walking free many months later.
     
  21. Muttley

    Muttley New Member

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    Grifynne, IMO LE has a description of the person who "came running out of the house" on Nov 23rd from Mr Russo when he came home for lunch. This is the person they want to identify who may have walked past the Log Cabin Restaurant on that morning and/or the morning of the murder. I hope they are onto some suspects from that search.

    Sadly I found this article at the 1 year mark, and LE is claiming the case is still active and will not release any new info.

    http://www.thecranberryeagle.com/article/20111130/CRAN0101/711309833/-1/CRAN

    But, the article does give some details I was unable to find previously:

    -Mr Russo
    -
    Small caliber gun in the side of the head, they don't say if they know it was a handgun or rifle, plenty of low caliber target rifles out there that you don't need much clearance to purchase in PA. Was someone seen walking past with a rifle sized case? LE did search the nearby woods for clues, was it small game season and was it common to see hunters in the area?

    Was the murderer the same suspect who was seen fleeing the day before by Mr Russo? If this was a planned murder, very very sloppy! Mr Russo reported the break in to LE and IMO gave a description of the person who he surprised and fled as he arrived home the day before his murder. Did that same suspect return to murder him the next morning and leave a typed note? Was the note a fake suicide note since the gun was small caliber and one shot to the side of the head? We can only guess since we don't know if the weapon was present or what the note read.

    I see as of Nov 2011 LE is still on this case, so I hope they are actively watching and waiting for developments.
     

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