The recent murder of 24-year-old William King has left some Penn Hills residents wondering whether the homicide was a hate crime. Police found King’s dismembered body on a wooded hillside in Plum Feb. 17 and have since charged suspect Vito Pelino with homicide, kidnapping and abuse of a corpse.
“I do have concerns about what has happened. A lot of people are questioning was this a hate crime so there does need to be an evaluation,” Joyce Davis, NAACP president. “All the citizens that are concerned about what’s right and good, we need to watch to see if this was a hate crime and is this being investigated.”
Allegheny County Police Lt. Andrew Schurman said there is no evidence to suggest the murder was a hate crime. According to police reports, King visited the home of Natalie Pelino Turner, Pelino’s sister on the night he was murdered. Pelino later arrived at the apartment and said he would drive King home.
“We don’t have evidence that says this was racially motivated. We conducted our investigation and we have no reason to believe this was a hate crime,” Schurman said. “What we believe happened could be two different things so we’re not going to speculate. Only two people know what really happened and one of them isn’t talking and the other one is dead.”
A witness who led police to King’s body said Pelino told him he murdered King because he had tried to have sex with his sister. According to police, Pelino asked the witness for help disposing of the body.
Despite police reports Davis said she and others will continue to follow the investigation closely because racial tensions continue to exist in Penn Hills.
“This was a heinous crime and I actually knew the young man. At this point we have not heard all the details but we are certainly waiting to see what is said,” Davis said. “This is a community where unfortunately we get a lot of complaints. When there are problems I hope people report them to the police and I hope the police are looking into them. This is something that is so horrible.”
King who worked at a local Walgreens was reported missing by his mother Feb. 14. King’s coworkers are collecting money to help his family with burial costs.