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Penn Hills resident, a Trib employee, missing for more than year

| Friday, May 30, 2014, 3:18 p.m.
File photo
Daniel Niehaus went missing May 28, 2013. Bones found along the Ohio River in Avalon in April 2014 belong to him, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office said Saturday.

Just over a year ago, Penn Hills resident Daniel Niehaus, then 59 years old, called in sick to his job at Trib Total Media.

He never returned.

Niehaus has been missing for a year as of May 28, and both police and missing-persons advocates say the prospects of his safe return are not good.

“It's a difficult case,” said Det. Benjamin Westwood of the Penn Hills Police Department. Westwood took over the case from Det. Joseph Blaze in October 2013, after Blaze was promoted to sergeant.

Westwood said Niehaus' relatives have been in regular contact with the department, and are taking care of his affairs in Penn Hills. The taxes on Niehaus' Lime Hollow Road home were paid in April 2014.

Westwood did not want to compromise any details of the case, but said that “there's been an extensive investigation.”

Penn Hills resident Nancy Monahan, who operates the Pennsylvania Missing Persons website, said information is important if the case is to be solved.

“The more information you can get out there, the better the probability of finding him,” Monahan said. “At this point, I don't have high hopes that he's alive.”

She also serves as a victim advocate for the U.S. Justice Department-funded National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, which posts profiles of missing and unidentified persons.

“Whatever happened to him, if he has dental records or DNA uploaded, anything they can get from unidentified remains, NamUs sort of automatically checks,” she said.

And while she is not optimistic, Monahan would never say that the case will not be solved, and cited examples to support her position.

“There was a gentleman missing from Bloomsburg (Pa.) for probably three years,” she said. “Nobody thought he was alive. And then, out of the blue, he came home. He left to try and start over again, it didn't work out, and then he just came home.”

Monahan also mentioned a case originating in the 1950s, where the niece of a woman who'd gone missing eventually entered information into the NamUs site, found a match to an unidentified body and was able to get some closure.

Monahan said she would encourage Niehaus' family to try to keep the investigation as current as possible.

Trib Total Media has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to Niehaus' return.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Det. Westwood at 412-798-2016.

Niehaus' profile can be viewed at PAmissing.com.

Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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