Baldwin woman's body found in woods in Washington County
Karissa Kunco was too terrified to walk to her car alone after her boyfriend beat her in the Mt. Washington home they once shared.
He continued threatening her online on Facebook, even after police charged him with the beating, police said.
Now investigators are trying to determine whether the man she feared, Jordan Clemons, 22, is the person who killed the 21-year-old from Baldwin and left her body in a wooded area in Washington County.
"There's been a history of violence between the two of them," Baldwin police Chief Michael Scott said. "She was concerned enough to tell the people she worked with. People were telling us that they made arrangements so that when she went out, somebody would walk her to her car."
Waterline contractors discovered the body yesterday afternoon near Sabo Road in Mt. Pleasant, less than 24 hours after Kunco's parents reported her missing and told police about her violent relationship with Clemons. Her stepfather identified the body as Kunco, according to Washington County Coroner S. Timothy Warco.
Video surveillance at Parkway Center Mall showed Kunco getting into her car and driving away from work sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Scott said. A friend was supposed to pick her up for dinner at 6:30 p.m., but neither Kunco nor her car were at her home.
Her family declined to comment.
About 75 people attended a candlelight vigil last night along Brookline Boulevard in Brookline.
Pittsburgh police charged Clemons with simple assault in December. Kunco told police that she found him asleep when she arrived at the Mt. Washington home on Dec. 18, according to the complaint filed against him. When Clemons woke up, he punched her in the face and head, and kicked her when she fell to the floor, the complaint stated. Kunco was treated for a concussion and filed a protection from abuse order against Clemons, writing: "I fear for my safety."
Police could not find Clemons to serve the arrest warrant, and he did not appear at the protection hearing, Scott said. Canonsburg police also were seeking Clemons in connection with a violent robbery on Jan. 8, according to state police Trooper Joseph Christy.
"All that led us to believe we needed to treat this with a sense of urgency," Scott said. "Unfortunately, this had an outcome we didn't want to see and hoped we wouldn't see."
Kunco's body was found about six miles from where police recovered her car in Cecil. Officers surrounded an abandoned house at the intersection of Meadow and Dogwood streets in Westland, where they believed Clemons was hiding. The home belonged to his grandmother.
Authorities issued an alert last night saying that Clemons had been seen entering the Northwest Savings Bank in the Wal-Mart store in Trinity Point shopping center in South Strabane about 7:05 p.m. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans and driving a red or maroon Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck.
Perry Ivery, 27, of Westland said Clemons, his cousin, "has been dealing with some very intense emotional issues" and that he has attempted suicide several times in recent days because he was upset about the suicide in March of his brother, Robert Clemons III, 33.
"Our prayers are with our family and Karissa's family as well. ... The whole situation is a tragedy," Ivery said.
Clemons is a 2007 graduate of Fort Cherry High School, where he was a running back on the football team.
His mother, the Rev. Freda M. Thorpe, has been the senior pastor of ReNewed Destiny Kingdom Ministries in Westland for the past eight years, according to her website. She could not be reached for comment.
Kunco's father told police that Clemons cashed his checks last week, Scott said. Shortly after he made the report, Kunco received a threatening message from Clemons through Facebook, the chief added.
Credit card transactions place the card Kunco was using first at the PNC Bank on Route 51 and Brownsville Road about 6 p.m. Wednesday, and then at a Circle K and a Wal-Mart in Washington County early yesterday, Scott said.
State police informed Kunco's family of her death at the Baldwin police station, the chief said.
"I'm shocked," said Julie Vojtash, 20, of Brentwood, who shared mutual friends with Kunco. "She was a good person, and she didn't deserve that at all."
Vojtash said Kunco, a 2008 graduate of Brashear High School, was the center of attention wherever she went and was always surrounded by friends.
"Everybody loved her and had respect for her," Vojtash said. "She had a ton of friends."
Scott said Kunco's family expressed "disbelief, and wishing that they had done more." Baldwin, Pittsburgh, Canonsburg, Cecil and state police worked together in investigating the case.
"There's a lot of agencies involved and a lot of places to track down," Scott said. "Unfortunately, we just ran out of time."
Staff writer Tony LaRussa contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’
- McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
- Police: Maine man shoots off firework from top of head, dies
- Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
- Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
- Biertempfel: Loss of All-Star paper ballots a blow to nostalgia
- Locke pitches 8 scoreless innings as Pirates edge Indians
- Starkey: Bring back the Brawl!
- Allentown mayor says he’s cooperating with federal probe
- Pirates trust eye test when voting for all-stars
- Court attire can have impact, public defenders say