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Somerset man held when body discovered

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A Somerset man panicked when he found a friend dead in his apartment, dragged the body outside and into a pickup truck, then abandoned the vehicle in the borough, police said.

Michael T. Moore, 37, was charged by state police Sunday after Frankie Allen Sass, 53, of Friedens, was found dead in his black Ford F-150.

Police began to investigate Sass' disappearance on Jan. 24. Moore and his girlfriend, Angela Hutzell, found Sass dead at Moore's 205 Stoystown Road apartment the day before, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Joseph Drzal.

Sass was a known drug user and had disappeared in the past, police said.

Somerset County Coroner Wallace Miller said the cause of death is pending toxicology results, but the death is not suspicious.

In an interview with police, Hutzell said she and Moore “panicked and began to drag (Sass) out of the apartment and down the steps” before contacting another friend, George Bittinger, for help, according to the affidavit.

Bittinger told police he helped Moore lift Sass, who weighed about 350 pounds, into the pickup truck and Moore allegedly threatened Bittinger not to tell anyone.

According to the affidavit, Hutzell and Moore allegedly drove the truck with Sass inside and parked it nearby. After they wiped down the truck, threw the keys inside and locked the doors, they walked back to their apartment.

Bittinger and Hutzell have not been charged.

Neither the county district attorney nor Drzal could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Moore faces charges of terroristic threats, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and intimidation of a witness.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5 before District Judge Kenneth Johnson. Moore remains in the Somerset County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Moore pleaded guilty in Somerset County court on Friday to tampering with physical evidence in a February 2012 case. A bench warrant was issued Monday and his bond was revoked.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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