Sea Planes flying around Pittsburgh in 60's ? Yes they where here .

Pittsburgh has 3 rivers the largest inland port in the US  so to see all kinds of river touring craft would not be unexpected like the Gateway Clipper Fleet and the WWII Duck Boats. Trucks which float and take tourists around the rivers to see the Locks & Dams etc. You can even charter a helicopter
But at one time in early 60's you could get on a Sea Plane and tour the city as well.Sea planes? you think of them more for use on lakes but
located on whats now called the North Shore  a small fleet of Sea Planes operated for several decades near Brunot Island & Manchester. using the Ohio River for take offs and landings and the base was  located on the Allegheny River  near sixth street bridge .
 The service was started in 1940s  by William Graham  who also ran the  Pittsburgh / Butler  Airport at the time .

I can not find a reason why the service was stopped had it gone bankrupt or was river land needed for development  or if owner had passed away and business not continued. But as a kid I remember standing on Mt Washington and seeing the planes take off and land on the Ohio in the early 60's .
There was also a sea plane base which operated near the Mckeesport -Dravosburg area as well up till late 60's  as well. 

2 mckeesport business owners shot dead in their business in past 4 years and no answers

 The city of Mckeesport is a town which went from a Steel making boom in late 70's to bust by the 80's tens of  thousands of steel making jobs lost which caused a mass exodus of people and where now up to 50% of the structures in the town are considered abandoned. and crime is rampant. But despite conditions there are business owners who still believed  in Mckeesport trying to make it a better place and ultimately paid with their lives for it.
 the first business owner to loose his life a small grocery store owner Aldo Scalfari  an Immigrant from Italy kept his store open in the evening despite his family's pleas not to.   He would  be shot dead in his store late one night trying to help who he thought was a customer in January of 2010 a very grainy poor video camera caught some of the action of Mr. Scalfari being shot and killed and his killer is still unknown to this day.

The second business owner Voltaire "Volt" Meade  the owner of Meade  Brothers Trucking who would help fix peoples vehicles  give them jobs etc was killed when 2 unknown men came in and opened fire on June 23 2012.

In both cases no leads as to who the perpetrators are and a community that will not cooperate despite how these 2 men helped to make their neighborhoods a better place.
 crimes which will probably never be solved because people who where being helped could care less what happened. what a dam shame. 

There actually is a Spooky Hollow Road in lower Burrell But why do they call it that?

I thought my eyes where playing tricks first time I saw the road sign Spooky Hollow Road off of Pa 56 in Lower Burrell Twp  Westmoreland  county thought at first they where doing it for Halloween but after several years its still there and roads name has never changed .

The curious thing I can find nothing about how the road got its name no ghost tales on some website etc .
so some day i hope to go up it and see why the name which looks like a long windy road.

A Horrifying Murder of Older woman in Arnold goes unsolved over 20+ years

 When I worked at Holmes Protection back in 1980 a job I detested when I saw how they treated their clients and eventually left I would work occasionally with another guy who started around same time I did  Willie Weber  a really good guy to work with he was only at Holmes a month or so when he quit and at the time said he was going to try and Join a police force. I never heard from him again till I was watching the news last year and they mentioned the name Chief Weber I look over at the TV and sure enough it Was Willie he not only had become a Police Officer but was now chief of Police for City of Arnold Pa. which is next to City of New Kensington.
What a great thing for Willie to have made chief.
But along his way to chief he was also a patrolmen and one of the first to respond to a horrific murder of a older woman  in her  Arnold home.
A son came home to find his Mother Stephanie Coyle 74  brutally beaten and mutilated and laying in a pool of blood.
It was a shocking crime even for an area which has seen its share of crime and decline when the mill jobs went away that  hot July 16th 1993 day.

Despite posters everywhere a large reward and plenty of news coverage not one thing has been learned as to who the killer or killers where.  Many believe it was a Junky looking for money or prescription pills for a fix 
but few details on the crime have been released .
If it was a junky chance are there already dead and the family will never have the satisfaction of seeing justice in the case. But to at least be able to know who and how may  bring some closure in a horrific case. 

Almost 3 years and no trace of Ross twp mother who disapaeared into thin air.

Going on 3 years ago young children come home in Ross Twp to find their  mother gone .
 Jamie Patterson 30
Had left behind her purse and Phone  just vanished in a quit  middle class neighborhood .September 26 2011  no note and no trace and no one heard or saw anything.

Just another in a series of mysterious disappearances in our area including 2 men  one from Penn Hills and another from Armstrong County . In our area in last 3 years .

Where they abducted by a Serial Killer ?  Did they commit Suicide?  Did they just want to disappear and start new lives?
If that's the case why would Jamie leave behind  2 beautiful children who need her ?
 This and the other cases have investigators baffled as they try to painstakingly retrace each and every last step and interview everyone who might have had contact with them. 
Hopefully they will all come home some day. 

They called him " Morrie the Match " the Jew who could make Concrete Burn

Arson also called " Jewish Lightning " as a slur against Jewish Business owners who would arrange to have their Business burn to collect the insurance.
Call it what you will but it is a Serious Felony  Criminal Offense .
Which Costs insurance company's millions ,costs hundreds of innocent lives and ultimately takes money out of the pocket of everyone who pays insurance premiums.

Pittsburgh has had the reputation for being the Arson Capital of the world more than once over the years just the shear number of fires which happen in this region is mind boggling. I can ride around Ohio and West Virginia with the Fire Scanner on not hear one fire call yet as soon as I cross into Western Pa the scanner is non stop with 3 or more fires going at once some days
Over the years many arsonists have been caught but still the successful prosecution  of arson fires is dreadfully low.
Some arsonists where home brew others like  Merrill  "Morrie " Klein  have been brought in from out of state to do jobs.

One arsonist from Cleveland use to bring  a newspaper from Cleveland with him and set fires and was eventually caught by way he set fires with  his Cleveland Newspaper.He was finally caught in the 80's  after setting a string of fires in the Mexican War Streets area of Pittsburgh  where people where buying the old houses start doing repairs and dummy everything up then arrange to have them burn and collect on the insurance.,3091134

One story I heard about Morrie but have not been able to confirm is he destroyed a factory in Butler County by taking the water out of the sprinkler system and replacing it with gasoline then turning  the water on behind the gasoline. He then started a  fire and sprinklers went off spread the fire even further and then when water did finally come out of pipe it was too late. Morrie is a very old man now almost 90 if he still is around the area which I doubt as he was more than likely given a new identity and town to live in  for being a stool pigeon .
How many fires he actually committed we will never know unless he comes out with a book  which I am surprised he never did.

When it came to investigating fires years back it was often thru the use of junk science  and unproved theory's and arsonists defense attorneys where smart in getting there clients off because they knew the science behind catching arsonists was not yet properly developed.
Unless you had finger prints or other solid evidence to get convictions  it was hard to bring Charges and Insurance company's just paid off  VS a court fight and District Attorneys not wanting to look bad  losing a case  and hurting there chances of becoming a judge often did not want to prosecute.Something that still goes on with too many DA's turning down cases they might loose.
Then you also had Crooked firefighters, investigators,Insurance adjusters  and judges etc all in on the fix .

It still goes on to this day where advanced rings of arsonists operate freely with out risk of prosecution.
and the fact  many fire codes even to this day do not require anything more than a lock and chain on a sprinkler valve to prevent it being closed.
Plus there are still too many fire investigators out there investigating fires who do not have proper training doing there jobs  and those who are trained who posit theory's and have nothing to back it up with than the fancy initials behind their name.
For every fire ruled arson and then found to be not arson after trails etc  you can bet money on the bank there are just as many fires ruled accidents that where really arson.

They say Prostitution is one of the oldest crimes on the book well arson is right there with it being mentioned in the bible.

The Kill for thrill Murders 35 + years of Justice Denied

 It happened only a couple of miles down the road where I take care of WAVL 910 AM transmitter site.
I remember that winter in 1979 in SW PA  as a young man who was out trying to get his business going  and working as a guard all over the place and worried about what was going on as you can see  from one of the many reports at the time .

It was on December 29, 1979, the body of 49-year-old Peter Levato was found near the Loyalhanna Dam and reservoir near Saltsburg, PA. Convicted Killer s John Travaglia and Steven Lesko forced Peter Levato to drive them out of Pittsburgh. When the got to Loyalhanna they then bound his hands and feet, hit him in the head, and pushed him over a bridge into the lake . Travaglia shot him once in the chest and twice in the head after discovering Peter was still alive.
Then on January 2, 1980, 26-year-old Marlene Sue Newcomer’s body was found in her vehicle in a Pittsburgh parking garage. She was likely killed the day before. Marlene had offered Travaglia and Lesko a ride in her vehicle, where she was shot several times before being robbed.
It was then that Thirty-two-year-old William Nichol's was abducted on January 3, 1980, by Travaglia and Lesko. The three drove in William’s car to Blue Spruce Park, where Travaglia and Lesko bound and gagged William and filled his jacket with rocks before pushing him through a hole in the ice of Blue Spruce Lake, where William drowned.
The final victim was a 21-year-old rookie police officer Leonard Miller. January 3, 1980, was Leonard’s third day of work. He made what he thought was a routine traffic stop. A car had repeatedly sped past Leonard’s police cruiser. In that car were Travaglia, Lesko, and a juvenile male, who were attempting to lead Leonard away from a convenience store they wished to rob. Leonard was killed as he approached the car. There crime spree came to an end several days later.
  When officer Millers Body was discovered this was one of the first calls to go out over the then newly formed Rainbow Control in Westmoreland county which was the forerunner to nationwide  911 service.
Thou Travaglia and Lesko where both convicted of murder in Officer Millers case  all those years ago 
 they still sit on death row  claiming they are changed men and should be given life instead of death sentences and since that time its been one appeal after another the latest death warrant signed last month by Governor Corbett  has been held up by a judge to allow all appeals to be heard . Truth is these 2 will never be executed they will die old men in prison just another mockery of the criminal system and the citizens of PA.  to make matters worse many of these killers have groups of people trying to get them freed for what they did saying they where wrongly convicted and do not deserve death.
Stretch of road where Officer Miller was killed 

Store Lesko and Travaglio planned to rob

Memorial to officer Miller

There's a new book on the murders by a former Apollo cop the you tube trailer for it is below 

Of course these where not the only spree killers around this area there have been several including Stanly Hoss who just had a book released on his life  called " Born to lose  "

Unfortunately we seem to breed  major spree killers around here   there  was  also  2 spree killers who went on rampages in 90's Ronald Taylor and Richard Baumhammers  as well  as 80's  Kevin Cooper who escaped from Mayview State Hospital  and killed a family in California and the notorious  Edward Surratt . Leaving behind many unanswered questions for victims family's  some of whom like in the case of Stanley B. Hoss have never been found
 Also believe it or not  Serial Killer Jeffery Daumier spent part of his young life right here in Penn Hills  his father a scientist worked for PPG Industries .

Some people say its something in the water around here and some times you wish it was that easy and answer but some times there are no answers as to why these men have killed .

They say everyone has a double but when your arrested for something your double did it gets complicated and becomes a made for TV movie

I have people walk up to me all the time and start talking to me like they know me, when I do not know them. Ends up I have an exact double his first name is Raymond and we both attended Brashear High School I would end up getting questioned all the time what was i doing in the trade school class halls when I should be upstairs in class.
Eventually i was issued a Carrick High school OVT ID and it showed I was in the Electric Wiring course which helped stop the issues but for those couple months it was a real pain. The Principle Dr. Nicklaus use to get a big laugh over the whole thing.
SO I can sympathize with a gentleman who got accused of robbing and Kidnapping a Girl I went to grade school with Denise Wisniewski  who lived couple blocks from me and  who was a clerk at a Fotomat  kiosk in  Mt Lebanon - Castle Shanon .
Fotomats where very popular kiosk to drop off your camera  film to get developed when I was a young man they where everywhere.

But when mini labs became affordable and every drug store had one the Fotomats went away.
Fotomat similar to one  Denise worked at.

But of course now mini labs have all but become extinct as digital cameras have hit the market .

the Incident with Denise  happened back in October of 1980

Robbed kidnapped and held overnight in a cabin in the woods till she was finally released  she first Identified 
Robert Dillen  a Photographer as he had a striking resemblance to the true suspect  Frank J. Jezeiorski 
Poor Robert Dillen went thru hell till the real culprit was caught. He had to end up moving out of PA. I do not know if he ever fully recovered or was made whole after going thru $30,000 he borrowed from his parents for legal defenses.
 The whole incident was so intriguing a made for TV  movie  was produced which I am still trying to find the name of. 
This was definitely one of those It could never happen to me nightmares that Happened to Robert Dillen and a NYPD Detective who found himself in a similar situation till culprit was caught. 
and recently happened to a Museum Security guard here in Pittsburgh  who was jailed for almost a year till it was proved he was at class that evening. thats why i always keep track where I am working and what i am dong it is to easy to get accused and then have to prove it was not you. 

Pittsburgh is Famous for Bridge to Nowhere but did you know there is also a Railroad Tunnel to nowhere as well?

When I was a kid the Fort Duquesne Bridge sat for many years uncompleted on Pittsburgh North Side one confused motorist actually tried to cross it and lived to tell when his car almost fell into the river.   But
as you crossover the West End Bridge  from the North Side to West end if you look over to the far right on West Carson Street and look up you will see an abandoned Tunnel of some type that is blocked off about 3/4 of the way up and just top 1/4 of the arch is visible .
No one seems to know its actual origins .
Some say it was the start of the proposed Pittsburgh to Stubenville Ohio Railroad  which sounds possible.
as many railroads where started and then never completed as well  as nothing more than on paper.
There also seems to be no where where it may have come out of the hill as well, just an entrance.
way too big to be used by a brewery  to store barrels of beer which there where many such tunnels in city at one time it was definitely built for a train or trolley.
Tunnel entrance mostly blocked off and chocked with weeds.
At one time where the Pat Bus Way comes off onto Carson I remember before they built it there was once a ramp for what looked like trains to come on to W. Carson and  was designed to feed into the tunnel.
Of course this is not the only mystery construction along W. Carson  There was an aqueduct built under W. Carson raising it several feet where trains pass over W.Carson from Brunot Island  which Penn Dot is now remodeling and lowering road to original level during a multi million dollar revamp of the road.
Even a gentleman who has an extensive web site with tunnels and bridges is unsure what the tunnel  and aqueduct was built for as well . Someday some where in some engineers office some one may come across the original plans and solve the mystery but for now both are unsolved.

40+ years an 8 yr old girls strangulation and Murder goes unanswered in Rices Landing Greene County

Greene County is a very rural area of South West PA. with its rolling hills and farms plus huge underground coal mines  and now with the Marcellus Gas boom it is busier than ever with activity. Which means plenty of unknown strangers and transient workers traveling thru. One of the few areas of Pa. I have not traveled thru extensively as I only had couple customer down there over years and it takes for ever to get from point A to B most people pass thru Greene County like I do Via I-79.

Maybe it was just such a transient who came thru the small rural town of Rices landing in October of 1973
 who strangled and killed little 8 year old Debbie Makel  and partially buried her 500 yards from her home in
Rices landing along the Monongahela River  where it  is extremely rural PA route 88 a 2 lane road travels thru it on its way to Point Marion and the  West Virginia line. Not a road a normal person travelling would take to west Virginia  as Pa 837  and US 119 to Morgantown are much shorter.  It would be used mostly by locals and the occasional back roads traveler sightseer  . But then again such a rural quiet area would be the perfect place to commit a crime and get away with it especially if  your not from the area. Seems to me they where doing a lot of work on a nearby electric power station could it have been some one working on that project? We will probably never know. This was also right along the Monongahela  river with a history of violence and mystery.

I did some sub contract camera work in the area in late 80's  and even then it was very rural but that's all changed with The Mon valley expressway PA Toll 43 coming thru the area but Rices landing still sits quietly by itself except for fact some one killed this beautiful 8 year old girl and no one has paid the price for it. 
I was just starting High School when Debbie was murdered and I still remember it in the papers .

25+ years Young Woman's murder goes unsolved in East Pittsburgh Apartment

It has been 25 + years since a killer crept in Carole Kresiks Ridge Ave.  Apartment in East Pittsburgh  on December 6 1986 strangling and killing her and there have been no further clues to her murder
Despite Bill Boards  and TV shows announcing a reward.
Ridge Ave is very well off the regular travel route  which you would think it was some one who knows the neighborhood not a transient passing thru. But to this point there have been no developments.

Like Father Like Son a Wolf family affair when it came to Arson Fires in Sharpsburg how many where they responsible for?

My late friend Grizzly in 70's  was a Volunteer Firefighter at a little fire dept known as Pleasant Valley one of the stations which served Ohara twp and surrounding community's
It was during this time he meet a fireman from Sharpsburg  Herman  " Buddy" Wolf a hard working volunteer willing to always help out with all the tasks others did not want to do and seemed to be an all around good guy .
So you can imagine how Grizzly and every other firefighter in the valley where shocked when Buddy as he was known was arrested and admitted to starting a horrific fire on November 2 1981 which would kill 3 young boys as they slept in there beds.  Some could not believe he could do something so evil and thought he was forced into the confession but in the end he was convicted and sent to prison for life. How many previous fires did buddy set is unknown and so
The end of the story or so you would think.,6746224

But the story does not end there a series of fires all over the Sharpsburg and surrounding area started breaking out in 1994 and low and behold a Volunteer firefighter from Sharpsburg is accused and convicted and sentenced to 6 years probation  Kenneth Wolf .
Yes buddy wolfs son .
Why he was ever allowed to join the dept is beyond me maybe they felt bad he grew up with out a father and if he had a clean record it would be wrong to deny him but you think they would have kept a much closer eye on him .Many  including myself wished he would have spent the rest of his life in prison with his father but he only got probation.

They still have arson fires in the area and its all new players again . There just seems to be something about volunteer firefighters and arson in this area. which I will discuss in later article.