The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

August 1, 2013

No murder weapon, suspect yet

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP — Frank Crash was stabbed to death with scissors or a knife sometime after 10:30 p.m. July 24 and robbed of a diamond ring and cash, authorities said Wednesday.

A news release was issued Wednesday by Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems after a team of investigators reviewed evidence.

“The police have not located the murder weapon,” Kochems said. “There are no suspects or persons of interest at this time.”

The wounds that killed Crash were one to his heart and two to his lungs, according to Kochems.

Mercer County Coroner J. Bradley McGonigle III officially ruled the death a homicide from “more than 70” stab wounds after an autopsy performed Friday.

Because of the length of time toxicology testing takes, final autopsy results are not expected for at least another two weeks, Kochems said.

Mercer County Crime Stoppers will be funding a reward for information leading to a conviction in the case, as well as a reward for a large gold ring with a 3.5-carat diamond solitaire about the size of Roosevelt’s head on a dime, according to Kochems.

Kochems said the investigation is far from over and will likely not end in the near future.

Police are sending multiple blood samples and potential pieces of evidence to the Pennsylvania State Police crime lab in Erie for DNA testing, chemical analysis and fingerprints.

Kochems said the priority testing is expected to take more than three months.

During this time, investigators will work to complete timelines, find a murder weapon and the stolen property, and interview family, friends, acquaintances and anyone the interviews point to, Kochems said.

Police said Crash left the Hickory Grille in Hermitage at 10:30 p.m. July 24 after eating dinner alone.

He was discovered dead at 9:30 a.m. the next morning in his home at 362 Mercer Road, Hempfield Township, by his daughter, Pam Higbee, after she was unable to reach him by phone at work or home, police said.

Court documents say Crash was found lying in a pool of blood on his dining room floor with a cell phone broken into two pieces beside him and the home phone ripped off the wall.

Police said it appeared that someone broke in through the back door of the home, and court documents indicate that a struggle took place in the bedroom.

Police also found blood throughout Crash’s home – the hallway, living room, dining room and bedroom, according to court records.

Blood was also found in the home of Susan Brenneman, Crash’s daughter, at 21 S. Mercer Ave. in Greenville, according to court records.

An affidavit filed at District Judge Ronald E. Antos’ office July 25 said police wanted to speak with Brenneman because an off-duty officer said he saw her walking toward her father’s home between 1:30 and 2 p.m. July 24 wearing a light blue shirt and blue jeans.

Police said they went on July 25 to the apartment Brenneman shares with John Rice and, after he invited them in, saw what they suspected was dried blood and ultimately found a light-blue shirt with blood on it, according to court documents.

Anyone with information about the stolen items, the weapon, or Crash’s whereabouts between the time he left the restaurant at 10:30 p.m. July 24 to the time his daughter found his body  the next morning should contact the Hempfield Township police at 724-588-7369.