West Mifflin police suspect stalking reports could be linked
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 5:01 a.m.
West Mifflin police suspect there is a connection between other recent child stalking reports and an incident on Thursday morning near Homeville Elementary School.
“A suspicious individual attempted to make inappropriate contact with a child,” West Mifflin Area School District Superintendent Daniel Castagna wrote in a letter posted on a district Facebook page and sent home to parents and guardians.
That's despite disparities in descriptions of the alleged perpetrators.
“It just seems to be extremely strange that there have been four of these in the area that don't appear to be at all the same but are vaguely close,” West Mifflin police Chief Ken Davies said.
He referred to Munhall and Clairton cases and a second West Mifflin matter, though details of that incident were not available at presstime.
Castagna's letter described the latest West Mifflin incident on Thursday along Everlawn Street and Glencairn Road, one block from the Homeville school.
“The individual is described as a balding white male with a red beard, driving a white car,” Castagna wrote.
Davies said suspects were described as black, white, balding, with red and white hair and ages ranging from 35 to 60.
The man who allegedly tried to lure a child along Main and Farragut streets in Munhall on Wednesday night was described as 60 years of age. The borough's Munhall Crime Watch Facebook page said that man was of medium build with gray hair, wearing a baseball hat.
In Clairton, a 14-year-old girl with autism told police she was stalked by a white male wearing black clothing who was driving a green car. Clairton police Chief Rob Hoffman said his officers responded to that incident then turned the investigation over to Allegheny County police.
Castagna did not return calls seeking comment at presstime. The matter also wasn't discussed at Thursday's meeting of the West Mifflin Area school board.
“The kids so far are doing exactly what they need to do,” Davies said. “They are staying away from these people, going and getting help.”
West Mifflin police are making their presence known at schools in that borough, both in the morning and when classes are dismissed.
“We have tried to increase our patrols,” Davies said.
“As you send your children to school, please keep a watchful eye for any suspicious activity around the bus stops,” Castagna's letter reads. “I encourage you to closely supervise all children at bus stops and routes to school. As more information becomes available, we will be sure to keep you updated.”
The superintendent's letter suggested websites parents and guardians could access to help them discuss “stranger danger” with their children and “to keep them on high alert and cautious of their surroundings.”
Included is a series of YouTube videos on kids' safety and self-defense.
“As always, please know that your child's safety is of first and foremost importance,” Castagna continued. “We take any and every incident seriously and make the necessary accommodations to protect your children.”
Munhall police were dealing with a different issue on Thursday night.
An Amber Alert was issued for Dechanel Morris and Shaeona Haynes-Duncan, 14, who were described on the Munhall Crime Watch Facebook page only as “missing persons/runaway.”
The two girls last were seen in the Munhall area, the crime watch reported. Police are asking anyone who has seen Dechanel or Shaeona to call the borough's dispatchers at 412-464-7300 or Allegheny County 911.
Staff Writer Tim Karan contributed to this story. Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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