Mental health experts had visited suspect in grandmother's stabbing death
Crisis counselors accompanied by police visited the Richland home of Levi Staver three times in the past two years, police said on Wednesday.
On a fourth occasion, a Northern Regional Police officer returned Staver to the home he shared with his mother and grandparents after he spotted him wandering around the neighborhood late at night.
Staver, 26, is charged with homicide for fatally stabbing his grandmother, Constance Johnston, 76, with a hunting knife on Tuesday, police said.
He told police that he was using the computer in his basement bedroom when “the Archangel Michael” directed him to “kill the witch.”
Johnston died at home.
An autopsy by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office found she died from stab wounds to the back and chest.
Staver remains in the Allegheny County Jail; a judge denied him bail.
Police who visited Staver's home with employees of Resolve Crisis Network, which provides mental health services, confirmed their assessments.
“There was concern from the family over his mental status,” said Chief Robert Amann with the Northern Regional Police Department.
Staver was not violent during their visits, and the counselors did not respond as the result of 911 calls, Amann said.
“Resolve is an emergency counseling service. When they feel there's no risk, the police leave,” he said.
Resolve is a partnership between Allegheny County's Department of Human Services and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC. It has a staff of 150.
The Department of Human Services declined to comment. Staver's family could not be reached.
Staver and his mother, Ruth Johnston, lived in her parents' home for two years. He was not employed during that time, Amann said.
Staver did not own firearms, and police do not believe he used illegal drugs, Amann said.
Staver's grandfather, David Johnston, was pastor at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Sewickley for 30 years, starting in 1968. He is pastor of Lifeline Community Church, which meets in McCandless.
“We cannot claim any deep or special insight into the conditions that might have led to, or the thoughts and feelings which could have possibly motivated this terrible act,” the Rev. Tony Cowley, Fairmount's current pastor, wrote in an email.
The Johnstons mentored Cowley and his wife, Natalie, when the Cowleys moved to Pittsburgh, he said.
A statement from the elders of Lifeline Community Church said: “Connie was not only a member of our church family, but a guiding hand to our congregation. She inspired so many people with her kind demeanor and ability to listen and helped those she met.”
Rick Wills is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He can be reachedat 412-320-7944 or email@example.com.
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.
- Downtown Pittsburgh Macy’s donates bits of history
- North Hills transit service limits lamented
- Newsmaker: Rudolph ‘Rudy’ Zupancic
- Founder of Operation Safety Net in Pittsburgh named one of CNN’s 2015 Top 10 Heroes
- Police looking for man who sexually assaulted Squirrel Hill woman
- Siblings sue over gas rights in Jefferson Hills land parcel
- Allegheny County Sheriff’s deputies apprehend one of county’s ‘most wanted fugitives’
- Former Pittsburgh mayoral candidate sentenced to prison for bogus 911 calls
- Pittsburgh considering legislation to ban drone activity from city parks, playgrounds
- Pittsburgh’s North Shore traffic gets critical look
- Bishop Zubik visits Mooncrest Community Center