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Monroeville police investigating threat against manager

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Monroeville Manager Lynette McKinney said Tuesday that despite receiving a death threat at her home last week, she has no plans of abandoning her post.

“I am not resigning,” McKinney said. “I think, by now, the residents see that I will continue to handle my responsibilities as municipal manager with dignity and pride for this community, and I will not be bullied. I have every intention of working to the end of the year with the current council, and I am hopeful that the new council will judge me on my work performance for the upcoming year.”

Investigators will try to extract fingerprints from the letter that threatens her life and that of her family, police Chief Steve Pascarella said last week. As of last Friday, police did not have a suspect. Pascarella was not available Tuesday for an update.

Though fingerprints do not guarantee that a suspect will be named or convicted, investigators might be helped by the fact that the letter was dropped off instead of being mailed, forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht said.

“It would depend on how much smudging, how much possible dilution, contamination or physical loss of fingerprint,” Wecht said.

The typed letter, which McKinney told police she found tucked into a screen door Thursday night, caps political infighting over police-department matters. The author levied threats in retaliation for disciplinary action she took against former Chief Doug Cole, whom she fired Sept. 11.

“You are going to regret what you did yesterday to Doug Cole. In fact, you may enjoy some of your last days on Earth, 'cause I am going to make you suffer until you stop breathing,” said the letter, a copy of which the Times Express obtained. “I know where your daughters are, and I know where your husband works. They will suffer, too. You all better watch your backs, for you will not know what hit you.”

The letter was signed simply, “Yours truly!”

If police determine who wrote the letter, “we will prosecute them,” said Mayor Greg Erosenko, who has disagreed with McKinney's disciplinary decisions.

Pascarella last week said charges “would depend on the circumstances.” He said patrol officers will keep “an eye on her.”

Neither Cole nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Dozens of residents and some municipal employees have spoken against personnel moves, including the firing of Cole and the resignation of former manager Jeff Silka, who said he was told by a majority of council to either remove Cole from the police chief position or be fired.

Since February, arguments and some threats have erupted at monthly council meetings. Cole's supporters have carried signs and heckled council members.

Councilman Bernhard Erb, a councilman who voted in favor of issues tied to Cole's demotion, said the letter doesn't surprise him.

“The fomenting that's happened in meetings over and over has led to this,” Erb said. “It should have been stopped a long time ago.”

Some have criticized the mayor for losing control of the meetings.

“I don't allow rowdy or threatening behavior, but voicing their opinion — I'll allow that,” Erosenko said.

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