Friday, July 11, 2014

Leads still being followed in homicide

January 01. 2014 11:24PM

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NANTICOKE — The daughter of a woman slain Thanksgiving night said she and her family are getting by, but it’s tiresome with no answers to who killed Gertrude Price in her home on East Grand Street in Nanticoke.

“We’re doing. But we’d feel better if we knew who did it,” Carol Belmonte, of Jackson Townshp, said softly.

Gertrude Price, 97, who lived alone, was beaten to death Thanksgiving night during a home invasion.

Price was known by family and neighbors as a strong-willed, independent woman who shoveled her own sidewalk, cut her own grass and kept a cozy little home in Nanticoke, the city where she raised her children and worked as a union dressmaker for a factory downtown.

Belmonte said she and her family spent a quiet New Year holiday at home. She spoke well of investigators and was confident in their abilities.

“The police have been super. I know that they’re working to the fullest extent that they can,” Belmonte said. “It’s just a matter of time. We pray every day.”

Active case

State police Lt. Richard Krawetz said the investigation continues with new leads followed daily.

“On a daily basis, we’re conducting interviews, following up on information we have received as a result of the investigation,” Krawetz said.

As is common in homicide cases, the bulk of the evidence was uncovered at the investigation’s onset. As more than a month has passed, new leads have slowed, Krawetz said. Still, the investigation has been an all-troop effort, and detectives from other stations have contributed in the search for Price’s killer, Krawetz said.

Police have not made clear whether a burglary that happened a few blocks away on Enterprise Street was related to Price’s murder.

Two Nanticoke men, Shane Hempel and Earl Hoopingarner, were arrested Dec. 21 and charged with burglarizing a home about 10 blocks away from where Price lived on the same night she was murdered.

A few days later, Janice Hempel, Shane’s sister, was charged with felony counts of receiving stolen property. The three remain jailed at the county prison for lack of bail.

Krawetz said that through testimony gathered during the homicide investigation, police were able collect enough evidence to charge the three in the burglary.

Krawetz did not say the burglary was connected to the homicide, only that the arrests were made with evidence gained as a result of its investigation.

Two rewards offered

Two reward funds have been set up for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Price’s killer.

Kevin Grevera, owner of Hunting Depot along Prospect Street and a former city police officer, started a fund that has exceeded $5,300. Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers later put up a second reward for $2,500 for information that leads to a conviction.

Anyone with information about Price’s death should call state police headquarters in Wyoming at 570-697-2000.

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