Allegheny Township man’s family seeks answers 11 years after his murder
It’s been 11 years since Alan Charles Wills Sr. was found murdered in his Allegheny Township home the day before what would have been his 52nd birthday.
Four members of Wills’ family told the Tribune-Review they are frustrated because, not only has the case never been solved, they say they haven’t heard from Westmoreland County detectives for at least five years.
On Aug. 14, 2008, Wills was found in the upstairs bedroom of a spacious house where he lived alone off Shearsburg Road. He was shot to death.
District Attorney John W. Peck said there haven’t been any new details to share with the family, but his detectives “haven’t stopped investigating.”
Wills, 51, owned and operated A&W Builders, a firm that built pole barns and garages.
His body was found the day before his Aug. 15 birthday, but it is unclear whether he died Aug. 14 or earlier. Westmoreland County detectives and the Wills family say Wills’ body was found by two of his employees.
“It was routine for the employees to go to Wills’ house the first thing in the morning,” county Detective Jim Williams said. “If he was awake, they’d get a cup of coffee. If not, they would wake him up.”
When the men found Wills, one of them called Wills’ son, Alan Charles Wills Jr.
“When I was driving there,” Wills Jr. recalled, “I was thinking he had an asthma attack. He has an inhaler. I ran upstairs where they said he was and I got down on floor and started to shake him. I was just hoping he was OK. Once I realized he wasn’t, I lost my mind. I punched the walls across the hall.
“The two employees got me out of there and I called (then Allegheny Township police Chief ) John Fontaine. He was a friend. We’d built something for him,” Wills Jr. said. Fontaine has since retired.
Wills Jr. said he was interviewed by detectives for hours that day.
Wills Sr. graduated from Penn Hills High School in 1974 and attended Penn State New Kensington, according to his mother, Jane Wills.
“Wouldn’t it be reasonable to contact us?” she asked.
“We’re not over this. We need closure,” said Wills’ daughter, Jessie Wills. “We wake up every morning with questions. There is a murderer on the loose, and that is very scary. We have a large family.
“We can be anywhere and talking with people and wonder, ‘Could I be talking with the murderer?’ and that frustrates me,” Jessie Wills added.
Wills Jr. laments that he hasn’t been ruled out as a suspect. Test results that became available three years after the murder show he had gunshot residue on his hands the day his father’s body was found.
Wills says the residue was acquired when he visited a gun range the day before, or when he bent down to shake his dad. Wills Jr.’s attorney, Milton Raiford of Pittsburgh, didn’t return a call for comment.
New lab tests
Williams said he and a colleague, Detective Todd Roach, are working the case. Roach, who was an Allegheny Township officer at the time of the murder, worked the case for six years before joining the county detectives.
Roach wasn’t available for comment.
Williams said he’s checking to see which evidence and fingerprints they can resubmit for up-to-date DNA testing.
“It might reveal something we didn’t have then,” Williams said.
He declined to say which items will get newer DNA testing.
Williams said any new test results would be sent to detectives in a couple of months.
Williams also said detectives “revisit the case” several times each year.
“We haven’t given up,” he said.
Williams said he and Roach have gone to federal and state prisons to talk with possible suspects.
They also have talked with FBI profilers. That evidence still is part of investigative records and not public.
Williams said he is hopeful detectives will find the key to filing charges despite the number of years that have passed.
“Someone knows what happened,” he said.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .