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Valley News Dispatch

Book about notorious cop killer Stanley Hoss featured by Carnegie Library

Chuck Biedka
| Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Jim Hollock
Jim Hollock
Stanley Hoss after his capture in Iowa
Valley News Dispatch
Stanley Hoss after his capture in Iowa
'Born to Lose: Stanley B. Hoss and the Crime Spree that Gripped the Nation,' by Pittsburgh author Jim Hollock, won a gold medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The book chronicles Hoss' 1969 crime spree that included the killing of Verona Patrolman Joseph P. Zanella.
'Born to Lose: Stanley B. Hoss and the Crime Spree that Gripped the Nation,' by Pittsburgh author Jim Hollock, won a gold medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. The book chronicles Hoss' 1969 crime spree that included the killing of Verona Patrolman Joseph P. Zanella.

A book that describes the violent life of notorious Alle-Kiski Valley cop killer Stanley Hoss Jr. is now on the adult summer reading list for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Author Jim Hollock's first book, “Born To Lose,” chronicles much of Hoss' life and a crime spree that captured the attention of the nation.

Known for his racist views and his ability to steal any car, anywhere, Hoss was accused of fatally shooting Verona Patrolman Joseph P. Zanella on Sept. 19, 1969, soon after escaping from the Allegheny County Workhouse in Blawnox on Sept. 11. Hoss was awaiting sentencing for raping a 17-year-old Shaler girl.

Hoss was sitting in a stolen bright yellow Chevrolet along Plum Street in Oakmont near the Plum border.

As the 25-year-old Zanella, a father of two, approached the car, Hoss grabbed a pistol from the seat, used the car's side-view mirror to point the gun over his shoulder at the officer, and fired one shot, killing Zanella.

Hoss kidnapped an Arnold woman, stole her car and eventually released her unharmed.

But he then drove to LaVale, Md., where he stole another car and kidnapped Linda Peugeot, 21, of Bel Air, Md., and her 2-year-old daughter. Hoss became the focus of a national manhunt. Peugeot and her baby were never found.

Hoss was soon on the FBI's Most Wanted List.

He was considered so dangerous that the FBI asked the Army to help with the manhunt.

Hoss was eventually caught in Waterloo, Iowa.

Valley News Dispatch predecessor used as source

The book was published by Kent State University Press in May 2011. It includes exclusive photos and reporting published in the Valley Daily News, a predecessor of the Valley News Dispatch.

Library adult program coordinator Dan Hensley said the book is one of 24 selected from 65 to appear on the reading list that highlights the works of Pittsburghers.

Hollock of Pittsburgh's North Side worked for 30 years for the state Department of Corrections and was a counselor at Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh when Hoss was serving a sentence there. While in Western Pen, Hoss tried to kill a black gang leader and caused racial strife. Hoss and others were later charged with the extremely brutal slaying of a black prison guard captain.

9 years later, Hoss found dead

Hoss was sentenced to life in state prison near Philadelphia. He was found dead, hanging in his cell, in December 1978. A blue shoelace was around the neck of the 35-year-old. The official cause of death was suicide.

Numerous reporters, a prison warden who talked to Hoss daily and others who knew the narcissistic man doubt that he killed himself.

Hoss took to his grave knowledge about what happened to Peugeot and her daughter and other unsolved crimes.

The book includes an epilogue in which Hollock details what happened to most of the people associated with Hoss, including his ex-wife and mistress.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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