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Dental expert called in to ID Forward body

| Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 3:56 a.m.

Allegheny County investigators will call upon a dental expert to help determine the identity of a man found fatally shot early on Sunday inside a burning Forward Township home.

The fire caused extensive damage to the house along the 400 block of Bunola River Road. The man whose body was found inside was pronounced dead at the scene at 2:22 a.m.

“It's been turned over to county homicide,” Forward police Chief Mark Holtzman said on Monday. “They are still in the midst of the investigation.”

County detectives and the county fire marshal's office did not return calls seeking comment by presstime.

A supervisor in the county medical examiner's office said Monday that the cause of death was a gunshot to the head, but the manner of death remained undetermined.

Some broadcast media outlets reported that the victim is the home's owner, James D. Stirbis, 54, but that had not been confirmed.

Police and the medical examiner's office said the body was burned beyond recognition.

A supervisor said an odontologist will examine pre-mortem and post-mortem X-rays on Tuesday.

According to county real estate records, Stirbis has owned the house since 2000. He purchased it for $30,000, but its value had increased to $90,000 in a recent assessment.

Stirbis did not request an appeal, according to the county's website.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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