Divers, cadaver dog search pond, woods for missing Unity woman
State police on Friday pulled in a dive team and a cadaver dog to search for a Unity woman who has been missing for nearly a week.
The Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Rescue Dive Team searched at least one pond for evidence related to Cassandra Gross, 51, of Unity.
Later in the day, a state trooper and Deputy Coroner John Ackerman used a cadaver dog to scour a wooded area off Twin Lakes Road, where Gross' burned vehicle was found.
The pond is near Almira Stanko's home at the end of White Fence Lane in Unity, next to Unity Cemetery. Stanko is the mother of Thomas G. Stanko, 47, who attorney David Shrager of Pittsburgh on Thursday identified as Gross' boyfriend.
Police searched Thomas Stanko's Unity home on Thursday. He denies involvement in Gross' disappearance, his attorney said.
Meanwhile, state police on Friday charged Stanko with receiving stolen property. He was arraigned before District Judge Roger Eckels on the third-degree felony charge and was sent to the Westmoreland County Prison after failing to post $100,000 bond.
Gross' mother, Kathleen, reported her missing on Monday. Gross had last talked to her mother by phone Saturday afternoon and didn't show up Monday at her job in Pittsburgh. Her dog, which is blind, was found along Beatty County Road, a few miles from her apartment and about five miles from Twin Lakes Park.
On Tuesday, police found Gross' red 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander along railroad tracks in a wooded area near Twin Lakes Park, three days after her family and friends last spoke with her. The SUV had been burned almost beyond recognition.
A Norfolk Southern railroad employee reported the burned vehicle to state police around 6 p.m. Tuesday after spotting it from a passing train along a rail line near the park. It took investigators until Wednesday morning to confirm it was Gross' vehicle because of the damage.
Police said it appears the SUV was taken to that spot and set on fire.
State troopers spent several hours Thursday at Thomas Stanko's property and were seen sifting through material in a burn barrel.
Investigators have not publicly called the case anything other than a missing person investigation. Kathleen Gross told the Tribune-Review that she doesn't believe her daughter ran off or committed suicide.
Police are seeking information from anyone who may have seen Gross' SUV in the Twin Lakes area or any other unusual activity. The license plate is HLP 1411.
Anyone with information is asked to call state police in Greensburg at 724-832-3288 or 911.