Family conducts final cemetery search for homicide victim Cassandra Gross | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Family conducts final cemetery search for homicide victim Cassandra Gross

Jacob Tierney
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Jacob Tierney | Tribune-Review
Harry Gross and his cousin, Tammy Klingensmith, prepare to go into the woods near Unity Cemetery to search for Harry’s daughter, Cassandra Gross, on Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019.
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Cassandra Gross of Unity, who would have turned 52 in May, went missing on April 9, 2018.

Searchers went into the woods one last time Sunday, looking for any sign of Cassandra Gross.

“I’ll never give up hope, I’m just running out of places,” said Kathe Gross, whose daughter was last seen April 7, 2018.

Kathe Gross wore a “Bring Cassie Home” T-shirt to Unity Cemetery on Sunday, where friends and family gathered to search the wooded area to the west of the graveyard.

They’ve searched that area many times before, as have the police.

However, the property is large and densely wooded, and there’s always a chance previous searchers missed something.

“It’s so vast, there’s so much land back there,” Gross said.

Gross said she hasn’t stopped looking for her daughter, and never will. But Sunday was likely the last time the family will search the cemetery.

The search was unsuccessful, Gross said Sunday night.

“We all just wish we could find her, bring closure to the family,” said Kim Halvla, a friend of Kathe’s who helped with the search.

Cassandra Edlyn Gross of Unity called her mom after lunch with friends on the afternoon of April 7. She was never seen again.

Investigators found her Mitsubishi Outlander burned nearly beyond recognition along a rail line near Twin Lakes Park.

State police now classify Cassandra Gross’ case as a homicide.

A Westmoreland County judge ruled her legally dead in January.

She would have turned 53 in May.

Many of the search efforts have focused on the land around Unity Cemetery because it’s near a property owned by Thomas Stanko, 48, of Unity, who dated Gross.

Investigators have called Stanko a person of interest in the case.

Stanko has maintained his innocence and says he doesn’t know where Gross is.

He’s been in jail more than a year on unrelated charges.

Kathe Gross said she was hoping for a large turnout Sunday. On Facebook, about 100 people said they would come. Only 20 arrived Sunday afternoon.

“There’s so much land up there to search, you need a big search party,” Kathe Gross said.

Still, she said she’s grateful to the many people who have supported her family since her daughter’s disappearance and to the police who she said have been tirelessly investigating.

“I just want to say thank you, and God bless you for caring,” she said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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