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Motive remains unclear in slaying of Kennedy Township man

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 10:42 p.m.
Investigators on Wednesday again visited the home of John L. Parkes Jr., 59, of Kennedy. Authorities said Parkes' fiancée found his body on Monday on the living room floor. Parkes had bullet wounds to his upper neck and head. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office ruled his death a homicide.
Investigators on Wednesday again visited the home (pictured) of John L. Parkes Jr., 59, of Kennedy. Authorities said Parkes' fiancée found his body Monday on the living room floor. Parkes had bullet wounds to his upper neck and head. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office ruled his death a homicide.

Neighbors were on edge Wednesday as word spread that a Kennedy man was apparently shot and killed inside the home he and his fiancee had spent years renovating.

John L. Parkes, Jr., 59, died of gunshot wounds in the head and neck on Monday afternoon inside the Poplar Street home that property records show he has owned with Carol A. Lapaglia, 48, since 2007.

Allegheny County investigators are treating the death as a homicide.

“Him and his (fiancee), they were just the sweetest couple you could ever meet,” said neighbor Janet Slaney, 74, who greeted Parkes nearly every day as she walked around the quiet suburban block of fenced, single-family homes and duplexes.

Parkes' family members could not be reached. Lapaglia declined to comment as detectives helped her remove photos and other belongings from the home with beige siding, white trim and a brown wooden porch. Detectives later canvassed the neighborhood.

Parkes has no criminal history, and records show no professional licenses or businesses in his name.

“He was a hard worker — he was always doing something in his yard, always fixing something, painting something, planting something,” said Susan Varley, 60, another neighbor who walked her dog past Parkes' two-story house and offered a “hello.”

Other neighbors said Parkes was a handyman who did not appear to have regular work aside from jobs around his well-kept property. He had replaced the siding, windows and roof of the house since the couple moved in. Parkes had recently finished painting its large deck.

Investigators said there was no sign of forced entry between the time that his fiancee left their house about 11 a.m. and when she returned to find his body about four hours later.

In addition to being shocked by the loss of a good neighbor, residents were worried about whether Parkes was targeted or whether it was a random crime that could have struck any of them.

“It's sad that someone has passed away, even more so if it was a random thing,” said neighbor David Metrovich, 58.

Carol Sutey-Hughes, a Sheraden resident acting as caretaker for a man living near Parkes' home who uses a wheelchair, said she was on guard because of a break-in elsewhere in the neighborhood more than a week ago.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by O'Brien's Funeral Home in Brighton Heights.

Staff writer Michael Hasch contributed to this report. Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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