Retired cop on Garfield skeleton discovery: ‘This is the end of the story.’
Retired Pittsburgh police Assistant Chief Therese Rocco knew Albert and Mary Arcuri intimately.
She was godmother to their daughter. Her family and the Arcuri’s were neighbors when Rocco lived in the Lower Hill District.
She described the couple as loving parents and great people.
But unsettled details started to add up when she learned last year that a skeleton uncovered by contractors in the backyard of a Garfield house was once owned by the Arcuris.
“I knew immediately. ‘Oh my god, a body at the Arcuri’s house,’” she said. “The first thought that came to my mind was Mary, but I didn’t say that. I could have been wrong.”
Pittsburgh police on Thursday announced that DNA testing confirmed the bones were those of Mary Arcuri, who disappeared in 1964.
Her husband told family members that she took her clothes and personal items and left him. Rumors circulated that she was having an affair and the story seemed plausible, Rocco said.
She said Albert Arcuri was a nice guy, not someone who would be prone to violence.
She couldn’t believe he would hurt his wife, but she always wondered why Mary Arcuri never contacted her children or family members after her disappearance.
It seemed doubly strange, she said, that Albert Arcuri died less than a year later after ramming his car at a high speed into a brick wall at the former Don Allen Chevrolet car dealership on Baum Boulevard. She said police believed it was a suicide after determining that Arcuri could have averted the crash.
Rocco was unaware that the Arcuris lived in Garfield until detectives showed up at her door last year with questions about the skeleton. The couple bought the house on Black Street in February 1960 for $9,700, according to Allegheny County real estate records. It was sold at sheriff’s sale in 1966.
Contractors discovered the remains under a concrete slab and bricks in February 2018 while renovating the house, which has exchanged hands several times since the Arcuris owned it.
Investigators thought the bones were those of another missing woman.
Rocco, who formerly headed the police Missing Persons Bureau and stores files from unsolved cases in her basement, gave them dental records of the woman in question. It wasn’t her.
Detectives later returned with that news and another piece of the puzzle: The house had been owned by her former neighbors.
“I believe she might have told him she was going to leave him, I don’t know,” Rocco said. “They might have had an argument and the argument ensued into a physical altercation. She was so tiny that one little push….”
Police are continuing to investigate. The Allegheny Medical Examiner’s Office has listed the cause and manner of death as undetermined.
Rocco doesn’t think police will ever conclusively determine how Mary Arcuri died.
“This is the end of the story,” she said. “There’s just nobody left.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .