TribLIVE

| Neighborhoods

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

East Vandergrift man who hid father's body in barrel waives preliminary hearing

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
David Jordan Thomas

Daily Photo Galleries

AlleKiski Valley Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 12:21 p.m.
 

An East Vandergrift man will stand trial for allegedly keeping his father's dead body inside a barrel in their Kennedy Avenue house for several weeks.

On Tuesday, David Jordan Thomas, 31, waived to court charges including abuse of a corpse.

He also is accused of identity theft and access device fraud for allegedly withdrawing about $3,400 at ATM machines from his father's bank account after his death to pay bills and buy illicit drugs.

Thomas remains in the Westmoreland County jail in lieu of $55,000 bond pending trial.

Westmoreland County Assistant Public Defender Eric Hoffman said his client is slated to receive mental health and drug and alcohol evaluations.

Thomas' 59-year-old father, David F. Thomas, was a disabled Navy veteran who was ill for many years, Vandergrift police and county detectives said. Thomas and his son lived in a small 1½-story Cape Cod-style house at 301 Kennedy Ave.

Police said a neighbor called to say the elder Thomas hadn't been seen for weeks and asked officers to check on him.

When police arrived at the home on June 24, they say, they were met by the son at the door and smelled a foul odor.

According to police, the son took them to the basement at their request and they asked what was inside the 55-gallon blue plastic barrel with its lid clamped shut.

Thomas allegedly told police it contained belongings from his grandmother. The foul smell intensified when he opened the lid to show them some of the clothing inside and suggest that nothing else was inside.

But the barrel tipped over and part of the deceased's partially decomposed body slid out, police said.

The accused later told police that he found his father dead and he initially wrapped him in blankets and put him in the basement. He said he later bought a barrel and had it delivered to the house.

Once it arrived, police said Thomas told them, he took it to the basement and put his father inside.

After an autopsy, Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha ruled David F. Thomas died from “unknown natural causes.” The autopsy revealed “no sign of trauma or foul play.”

Funeral services for Thomas have not been announced.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read AlleKiski Valley

  1. Armstrong inmate escapee charged with murdering family matriarch
  2. Rainy summer delays paving projects in New Kensington
  3. Captured Armstrong jail escapee Crissman’s criminal history
  4. HBO to end ‘Banshee’ series, disappointing Vandergrift
  5. ATI reveals details of contract offer to steelworkers union
  6. Multiple delays to slow travel between Alle-Kiski Valley, Greensburg
  7. Winfield supervisors OK natural gas-drilling regulations
  8. Judge lets New Kensington Ten Commandments monument stand
  9. Winfield Community Park restroom project stalls over high contractor bids
  10. New Kensington-Arnold committee discusses ways to combat bullying
  11. Mt. St. Peter draws crowds with 34th annual Festa Italiana in New Kensington