New charge filed against Hempfield man accused of threatening church, pastor |
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Renatta Signorini

A Hempfield man accused of leaving threatening messages for the pastor of a Penn Township church was arrested Tuesday on a charge of flight to avoid apprehension.

Mark Eugene Ray, 59, was found hiding in an East Pittsburgh home June 3, 10 days after he allegedly fled from police trying to arrest him on ethnic intimidation and related charges, according to police. He was jailed Tuesday on $35,000 bail.

Westmoreland County sheriff’s deputies helped Penn Township police track Ray after the arrest attempt May 24. According to a criminal complaint, authorities were tipped off Ray was staying with a friend in East Pittsburgh.

Around 11 a.m. June 3, police found a red Chevrolet Malibu from a Herminie auto service they believe Ray was using parked outside a Grandview Avenue home. After an extensive search, they found him inside the coal cellar, according to court papers.

Ray is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on ethnic intimidation and related charges in two separate cases connected to threatening messages and racial slurs directed at the members and pastors at Living Word Congregational Church. He first was arrested in 2017 and was ordered to stop contacting the church. His bail has been revoked in that case.

In the case filed last month, police allege Ray left four voicemails — two each May 14 and 15 — directed at the church’s pastor, who police said is black. Ray is white, according to court documents.

His attorney could not be reached. A preliminary hearing on the flight charge is set for July 12.

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