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Manhunt in South Huntingdon called off Monday night, to resume Tuesday

Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
A State Police vehicle blocks the road at the intersection of Turkeytown and Branthoover Roads in South Huntingdon Township on Monday, October 28, 2013.

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Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

An intensive manhunt on Monday by state and local law-enforcement agencies for a Sewickley Township man who fled from sheriff's deputies and ran into a wooded area of South Huntingdon, will resume on Tuesday after being called off Monday night, Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held said.

The search for George C. Hayden III, 21, of Herminie will resume with law-enforcement personnel obtaining information from friends and family of the suspect, Held said.

“We have searched a lot of acreage,” Held said at 8:30 p.m.

The search area included dense woods, fields and corn fields.

State police as well as police from West Newton and Smithton joined the sheriff's deputies, the Greensburg Fire Department bloodhound team and a state police helicopter in searching along Turkeytown Road. That search evolved into a rescue operation because Hayden suffered an injury during his flight, Held said. Authorities learned of Hayden's injury when he made cell phone calls to family and friends, Held said.

Lou Battistella, captain of the fire department's bloodhound team, said their dog caught a scent of the suspect. Battistella said he could not make additional comments about the search.

The search began at about 11 a.m. when sheriff's deputies spotted Hayden at the residence of Michael Smalich of 442 Turkeytown Road, as the suspect was driving into Smalich's driveway, Held said. The deputies had gone to Smalich's residence to serve a bench warrant on Hayden for failing to appear for an Oct. 17 hearing on drug possession charges before Westmoreland County Judge Alfred Bell, Held said. The sheriff's department had learned that Hayden was friends with a female member of the Smalich family, Held said.

In addition to failing to show for his court hearing, Hayden is a suspect in an armed robbery at the Comfort Inn at 106 Blair Ave., New Stanton, at 9:50 p.m. Sunday, Held said.

The robber threatened the clerk with a gun and demanded money, taking about $260, state police at Greensburg said.

The robbery suspect was a white man in his 20s who wore a black trench coat, black hat, gloves and a bandana over his face, state police said.

Police discovered a black pellet gun, clothing and a bandana in the car Hayden drove to the Smalich residence, Held said.

Held described Hayden as being about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds.

Hayden also failed to appear before West Newton District Judge Charles Christner for a hearing Monday on simple assault charges, Held said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or

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