So far this year, April has had the lowest number of homicides and even more, the lowest number of Black homicides. This month, there was only one Black murder. Although the numbers were low, the senseless factor remains. Many of the homicides were due to disputes that got out of hand and took a wrong turn. Whatever happened to stepping back and taking a deep breath during an argument? When did it get to the point of picking up a gun, a knife or even a bat? Although there was only one Black homicide, even one is one too many. We, as a community, have to unite and continue the efforts, so that one can be turned into none.
As part of an ongoing effort to heighten awareness about the effects of murder in the Black community, the New Pittsburgh Courier will compile a list of homicides in the county each month. It is our hope that as the list of victims grows, so will a true understanding of how these lost lives affect the mental health, economic well-being and self-images of the region’s Black neighborhoods.
Out of the 26 murders in 2010—15 Black and 13 were Black men.
APRIL Homicides (5)
APRIL 2—Walter Wetzel, a 61-year-old White male from Pittsburgh, died at UPMC Mercy Hospital of complications from an injury he sustained Nov. 28 at the Duquesne Heights BP gas station at 910 Saw Mill Run Blvd. when he tried to stop a robber. After a clerk was confronted by a robber and when he fled, Wetzel, the station’s night manager, went after the man and was hit with the getaway car, fell off the hood, got caught underneath and was dragged. Authorities arrested Frank Pekular and have charged him with homicide and other charges. He is awaiting trial.
APRIL 3—Dennis Farley, a 51-year-old White male from Castle Shannon, was beaten to death at a homeless camp behind a South Side shopping plaza in the 2000 block of Wharton Street. He suffered severe injuries to his head, ribs and organs. Authorities arrested Richard Kelly, who allegedly beat Farley after he refused Kelly’s sexual advances. He has been charged with homicide and is awaiting trial.
APRIL 8—Antoine Sturdivant, a 30-year-old Black male from the North Side, was punched and fatally shot after leaving a Homewood after hours club. He was in the middle of breaking up a fight between two groups of girls, when he was attacked by two men he had a dispute with earlier. Sturdivant was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where he later died. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.
APRIL 23—Jeanette Abrams, a 44-year-old White female from South Fayette, was beaten, stabbed and burned to death in her home at 110 Locust Lane in South Fayette after an altercation with her husband. Authorities arrested Robert Dennis Abrams, her husband, after he allegedly hit his wife with a hammer, stabbed her and then set their home on fire. He is charged with homicide, arson and abuse of a corpse and is awaiting trial.
APRIL 25—James Hoover, a 31-year-old White male from Lincoln, was shot to death after he and others got into a dispute at the Son’s of Italy Social Club at 101 Sixth St. in Glassport. He and his brother were shot and he died at the scene. Authorities arrested and charged Garrett Raymond Sainiak with homicide, aggravated assault and firearms violations. He is awaiting trial.
JANUARY HOMICIDES (6)
JAN. 1—Lillainya Rachko, a 29-year-old White female from Beechview, was found beaten to death with an aluminum bat in the basement of an Orangewood Street home in Beechview. She allegedly was beaten by her boyfriend, William Murray, who later committed suicide.
JAN. 6—Uniquea Hines, a 23-year-old Black female from Clairton, was stabbed to death in the neck in her Clairton home on Baatan Drive in Century Town Homes. Police arrested and charged Herbert Benson, the father of her two children. He allegedly entered her home, went to her room and assaulted her and another male. He left the room and returned with a knife and then stabbed her. Her children were home and saw the incident. She ran to a neighbor’s home, where she collapsed and died. Benson has been charged with homicide, burglary, assault, child endangerment and resisting arrest.
JAN. 15—Marcel King, a 40-year-old Black male from Pittsburgh, was found stabbed in the chest and laying face down in the courtyard of the 2100 block of Elmore Square in the Hill District. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Tyrone Taylor has been charged with criminal homicide. He and King allegedly had an argument.
JAN. 20—Adelani Bajomo, a 50-year-old Black male from Stowe Township, was found dead with a gunshot to the chest on Belleau Street on the North Side. He was allegedly killed while driving a passenger in his jitney. He died at the scene.
JAN. 24—Arnaldo Scalfari, a 65-year-old White male from McKeesport, was found shot to death in his corner store, Aldo’s, at Jenny Lind and Packer streets in McKeesport. It appears to have been a robbery. No one has been charged with the homicide. The investigation is ongoing.
JAN. 31—Omar Battle, a 27-year-old Black male from Pittsburgh, was fatally shot in the back outside AutoZone in the 200 block of Penn Avenue in Wilkinsburg Jan. 29. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died two days later. No one has been charged with the homicide, the investigation is ongoing.
February Homicides (8)
FEB. 7—Decarlos Lewis, a 2-month-old White male from North Versailles, was found unresponsive by authorities in his Hyer Avenue apartment in North Versailles when they responded to an emergency call made by his father. He had been in the care of his father. Michael Lewis, the child’s father, has been arrested and charged with homicide, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest. He is currently awaiting trial.
FEB. 13—William Ford, a 31-year-old Black male from Penn Hills, was found dead with multiple gunshots to his torso in the 7200 block of Frankstown Avenue in Homewood. No one has been charged with the homicide. The investigation is ongoing.
FEB. 14—Devin Dastion, a 21-year-old Black male from the North Side, was found fatally shot with multiple gunshot wounds in the 2300 block of Holyoke Street on the North Side. He was taken to Allegheny General Hospital, where he later died. No one has been charged with the homicide. The investigation is ongoing.
FEB. 17—Lisa Sipper, a 46-year-old White female from Penn Hills, was found shot to death in the garage of her home in the 100 block of Glenfield Drive in Penn Hills. She was reportedly shot by her husband, William Sipper, who later killed himself. The incident has been ruled a murder-suicide.
FEB. 17—Ryan Davis, a 20-year-old Black male of Lawrenceville, was fatally shot in the chest by a Pittsburgh police officer after he resisted arrest and attacked the officer when she tried to arrest him at East Liberty Boulevard because he matched the description of a robber. Officer Janine Triolo allegedly ordered Davis to put his hands against the wall, he complied and when she went to handcuff him, he turned around punched her in the face, pummeled her, held a gun to her head and tried to take her service weapon. After she regained control of her weapon she fired two shots, one hitting Davis. Triolo has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure, while the incident is being investigated.
FEB. 22—Daton Boyd, a 22-year-old Black male from Pittsburgh, was found fatally s
hot in the 2100 block of Elmore Square of the Hill District by officers responding to a call. He was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital where he later died. No one has been charged with the homicide. The investigation is ongoing.
FEB. 25—Sean Murphy, a 40-year-old Black male from Penn Hills, was fatally shot while waiting at a traffic light at the intersection of Paulowna Street and Bigelow Boulevard in Polish Hill. An unknown person came up to his vehicle and shot Murphy, causing him to press the gas pedal and run into a vehicle, which caused a chain reaction incident with four vehicles. He was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where he later died. No one has been charged with the homicide, the investigation is ongoing.
FEB. 27—Davon Williams, a 25-year-old Black male from Arlington, was found dead behind a vacant home on Hays Avenue in Mt. Oliver. He reportedly had been shot earlier in the week and ran behind a home. His body had been covered in snow. Authorities have not charged anyone, but have obtained a warrant for a suspect. The investigation is ongoing.
March Homicides (7)
MARCH 7—Mara Knox, a 41-year-old Black female from Windgap, was found fatally stabbed with multiple wounds to the abdomen in her home in the 3800 block of Haven Street. She was taken to Allegheny General Hospital, where she later died. Authorities have arrested her husband Anthony Knox. He allegedly stabbed her, went after their children and then stabbed himself. He has been charged with homicide, two counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
MARCH 14—Mark Barry, a 55-year-old Black male from Marshall-Shadeland, was found dead and guarded by his dog with a gunshot wound to the chest in the 2700 block of Mullins Street in Marshall-Shadeland. He was allegedly walking his dog when he was approached by two teens who intended to rob him. Police have charged Cordell Brown and Tyrone Thomas with homicide, conspiracy, robbery and carrying a firearm without a license.
MARCH 15—Lee Schwartz, a 43-year-old White male from Squirrel Hill, was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head and found on a hillside in the 100 block of Hazlett Street in the North Side. No one has been charged with the homicide.
MARCH 20—Josef Moore, a 21-year-old Black male from North Braddock, was found fatally shot in the head in the 500 block of Margaret Way in North Braddock. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities have charged Sean Robinson with homicide and a firearms violation.
MARCH 24—Taushad Thompson, a 2-year-old Black male from the Hill District, was found with head injuries at a home on North Fourth Street in Clairton when police answered a call. He was taken to Children’s Hospital of UPMC, where he later died of blunt force trauma. Authorities charged Eric L. Johnson with criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of a child. He had been watching Thompson.
MARCH 24—Melvin Johnson, a 20-year-old Black male from Sheraden, was found shot in the head by police when they responded to a call of someone shot at 1008 Chartiers Ave. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was allegedly shot when he and another male tried to rob an apartment. No arrests have been made.
MARCH 27—Shirl Esseny, a 60-year-old White female from Pittsburgh, was found fatally shot in the lower abdomen in the 6800 block of Frankstown Avenue in Homewood. She was taken to UPMC Presbyterian, where she later died. She had been coming home from the Homewood Branch of the Carnegie Library when she was hit. She was not the intended target. Authorities have arrested Anthony Thomas, 15, and charged him with homicide, possession of a weapon by a minor and carrying a firearm without a license. They also later charged Robert Brown, 16, with the same charges plus criminal conspiracy. Her name has also been reported as Cheryl Esseny.