Local Headlines

Important stories from the Pittsburgh region.

FBI: Buried Body Is Fugitive Accused In Saxonburg Police Chief Slaying

Jul 14, 2017
FBI via AP, file

*UPDATED: July 14, 2017 at 4:47 p.m.

A decades-long search for a fugitive charged in the 1980 killing of a Pennsylvania police chief came to a dramatic end Friday as authorities positively identified remains found buried in a Massachusetts yard as the man they have long suspected in the fatal shooting.

Human Remains Found In Search For Missing Men, 1 Victim ID'd

Jul 13, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Investigators found the body of one of four missing young men Wednesday night, along with other human remains, buried deep in a common grave on a Pennsylvania farm. They vowed to "bring each and every one of these lost boys home to their families, one way or another."

Cosby Fan Gets Hearing After Allegedly Recording Trial's End

Jul 12, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Court officials in Montgomery County have set a hearing for a woman described as a fan of Bill Cosby who allegedly recorded the defense's closing arguments in the entertainer's criminal trial last month.

Anitra Burrows, 37, of Collegeville, will appear before President Judge Thomas DelRicci in a 9:30 contempt of court hearing Thursday in Norristown, according to a scheduling order filed by the court.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania State Police are searching for a crash victim who stole the pickup truck of a Good Samaritan who stopped to help him.

Police don't know the crash victim's name, saying only that he smashed into a guide rail on Interstate 79 near the Carnegie exit. When the pickup driver pulled over to help him, police say the crash victim jumped into the man's pickup and drove off, dragging the pickup drive about 100 feet before the man released or fell off the vehicle.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Every morning, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s new 177-pound baby African elephant takes a stroll through the grounds.

“She knocks over the trash cans, she knocks over any signs she can find,” said Willie Theison, elephant program manager at the Pittsburgh Zoo. “She just thinks she’s the baddest little girl.”

Hershey Fire Department / Twitter

An Independence Day fireworks show at one of Pennsylvania's most popular amusement parks ended early after the show sparked a brush fire on a hillside near the fireworks launch area.

The Hershey Fire Department tweeted a picture of the blaze Tuesday night.

Fire officials say the fire started about 15 minutes into the display at Hersheypark. Although the fire was quickly brought under control, the rest of the display was canceled.

Nobody was hurt.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Man In 'Right Spot' At The 'Right Time' To Save Leechburg Fire Chief's Life

Jul 3, 2017
Jon Dawson / Flickr

John Fiorina wasn't going to stay for the fireworks show at the Leechburg Volunteer Fire Company's annual carnival. In fact, he was getting ready to go home.

His back was hurting, a culmination of working nonstop at the carnival's Chuck-a-luck wheel, standing on concrete all week and being on his feet at work earlier in the day.

"I said to the guys and the girl with me, 'You know, when these fireworks start, I'm going home,'" the 50-year-old Leechburg resident said.

Google Maps

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is delaying the certification of a high school principal accused of threatening a student who recorded the incident, while the department investigates his fitness of character.

An attorney for Woodland Hills principal Kevin Murray says he's spoken to state education officials and expects the certification to be approved in a few weeks.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Some lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf took a break from budget negotiations Wednesday to sign a high-profile package of bills into law.

They significantly overhauled the commonwealth’s animal rights legislation, and included a measure that has brought a lot of attention to the issue in the past year: Libre’s Law.

The bill signing saw more fanfare—and barking—than most.

Diocese of Allentown / Facebook

Pope Francis decided to stay close when selecting a new leader of the Allentown Roman Catholic Diocese.

The pope on Tuesday appointed Monsignor Alfred Schlert as the fifth bishop of Allentown. Schlert is the first priest from the diocese to be appointed to lead it.

The 55-year-old has been serving as the diocesan administrator since the pope named his predecessor the bishop of Rockville Centre, New York. He said his experience in the area will help as he takes on the new role.

Why Is Pennsylvania Called A Commonwealth?

Jun 27, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

Ever wonder about something you see or hear in the region that you wish our reporters would explore? Now's your chance!

Here's how it works: Share your questions with us. Then, we'll let the public vote on the one they want us to investigate. Finally, if your question wins — and if you're game — work with us to get to the bottom of it.

Matt Slocum / AP

Prosecutors in suburban Philadelphia plan to retry Bill Cosby after his two-week sexual assault trial ended Saturday in a mistrial, with the jury unable to reach a unanimous decision on any of the three counts. Cosby is accused of sexually assaulting a woman at his home near Philadelphia in 2004. The entertainer says what happened was consensual.

Some key things to know about the retrial:

___

WHEN WILL IT BE?

Allegheny County Police

A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed drug and weapons charges stemming from a 2013 case against two men who were later charged in an ambush at a Wilkinsburg cookout that killed five adults and an unborn child last year.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David Cashman on Monday granted a dismissal request from defense attorneys for 29-year-old Cheron Shelton and 27-year-old Robert Thomas along with a third defendant in the drug case, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Several Pennsylvania newspapers will be under new management this summer. 

GateHouse Media, a behemoth conglomerate overseen by New Media Investment Group, is slated to finalize purchase of The Beaver County Times, Ellwood City Ledger, The Bucks County Courier Times, The Intelligencer (Doylestown), the Burlington County (New Jersey) Times and Calkins Digital in June.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A Nashville Predators fan briefly faced summary charges after throwing a catfish onto the ice at PPG Paints Arena during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Pens were up 3-0 with 16:40 left in the second period when Jacob Waddell, 36, of Nolensville, Tenn., said he launched a mangled catfish over the protective glass near section 122. 

Rich Moffitt / AP

Officials anticipate more than 2 million vehicles will use the Pennsylvania Turnpike during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Officials say the busiest time for travel will be Friday afternoon and Monday evening.

The turnpike will suspend maintenance work and have all lanes open between 5 a.m. Friday and 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Officials say state police on the turnpike investigated 69 crashes which resulted in seven injuries during Memorial Day weekend last year.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The images of people helping one another in the wake of the deadly bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in England has prompted one writer to pay tribute to public television's "Mister Rogers" for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the iconic children's show.

Final Cosby Jury Selections Made In Allegheny County

May 24, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

**UPDATED: 6:12 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Half of the new jury pool being questioned Wednesday in Bill Cosby's sexual assault case said they've formed an opinion on his guilt or innocence, and another knows Cosby or his family.

All 12 jurors and six alternates have been chosen this week for the case starting June 5 in suburban Philadelphia. Those who have opinions weren't necessarily disqualified if they convinced the judge they could put that aside and focus on the evidence.

Cosby's lawyers have complained about prosecutors striking two black women.

Defense Raises Race Bias In Cosby Jury Selection Process

May 24, 2017
Gene J. Puskar / AP

With just one black person seated among the first 11 jurors chosen for Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial, defense lawyers are crying foul and accusing prosecutors of trying to systematically keep blacks off the jury.

The lawyers returned to court on Wednesday in Pittsburgh to pick a 12th juror and six alternates. Cosby arrived Wednesday just before 8 a.m.

For now, Judge Steven O'Neill has rejected the race bias argument.

Martin Rickett / AP

Alex Popichak, a student at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, was wrapping up a radio journalism workshop in Manchester, England when Monday's bombing at an Ariana Grande concert occurred.

Popichak and seven fellow journalism students were staying at hotel 2 miles from the concert venue and no one in their group was injured.

He spoke to 90.5 WESA's Larkin Page-Jacobs about his experience in the aftermath of the bombing.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

UPDATED: 7:31 p.m. on May 23, 2017. 

At the end of the day on Tuesday, 11 jurors had been selected to serve on the panel that will hear Bill Cosby's sexual assault case. Ten of the jurors are white; only one is African American. The court will have new pool of 100 potential jurors to question on Wednesday in an effort to find one additional juror and six alternates.

David Goldman / AP

Pittsburgh's primary is set, but election season is just getting underway. Politcal reporters Kevin Zwick of the Greensburg Tribune-Review and Chris Potter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have more.

Matt Rourke / AP

A judge and several lawyers from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania will be in Pittsburgh Monday to pick a jury to take back to suburban Philadelphia. The 12 jurors and six alternates will be tasked with hearing the sexual assault trial of comedian Bill Cosby.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

A man smoking a cigar laced with synthetic marijuana when he caused a chain-reaction crash that killed a University of Pittsburgh professor must spend five to 10 years in prison.

Fifty-year-old David Witherspoon was sentenced by an Allegheny County judge on Thursday after pleading guilty in February to involuntary manslaughter and other crimes in the October 2015 crash that killed 34-year-old Susan Hicks.

Witherspoon and his attorney say he is remorseful and has suffered from mental health issues.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Pennsylvania woman who said her only regret in life was not finishing high school has received an honorary diploma — at age 105.

Theresia Brandl donned a cap and gown Wednesday at her Oakdale nursing home to celebrate, surrounded by four grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

Brandl attended Stowe High School until she had to drop out to care for her ailing mother. The school was later merged with a nearby school, forming Sto-Rox High School, which awarded her the honorary diploma.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Utility companies were working to restore power to hundreds of people still without electricity a day after severe storms swept through Pennsylvania, downing trees, power lines and possibly spawning several small tornadoes.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh says investigators will be heading to Butler, Clarion and Forest counties to determine whether tornadoes touched down Monday afternoon.

Miles Gehm / Flickr

A large portion of western Pennsylvania, including the Pittsburgh region, is under a tornado watch until Monday evening.

The watch also covers counties in West Virginia and Ohio, and is expected to remain in effect until 7 p.m.

Dave Martin / AP

A man has been cited for disorderly conduct after police say he "freaked out" when he saw a Confederate flag displayed in a Pennsylvania hotel window as part of a Civil War-themed wedding.

The (Easton) Express-Times says police charged the man with making the disturbance at the Hotel Bethlehem on Saturday. His name wasn't immediately released.

Police Chief Mark DiLuzio says the man was cited for "freaking out, screaming and yelling" and creating a "very aggressive and disorderly scene."

Jim Bourg / AP

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week, reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Pages