East Vandergrift man who hid father's body in barrel waives preliminary hearing
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Riverview to correct heating problems over Thanksgiving holiday
- Positives seen despite Valley Junior-Senior High School performance scores
- Car dealership, church receive OKs for Harmar moves
- Apollo plans no tax increase
- Loose bricks force Tarentum road to remain closed through weekend
- Buffalo Township woman sentenced to jail for selling pot
- No eagle cam for Harmar next year but 2 for Hays
- Domestic call leads to bust on heroin, cocaine charges in Sharpsburg
- Municipal Authority of Washington Township reads list of those who owe
- Municipal Authority of Washington Township to call out delinquent ratepayers
- Suspect in Harrison robbery arrested, suspected of 14 other holdups