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Burned house familiar to police

| Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2003

A Penn Hills house destroyed by arson Friday was familiar territory to local police.

Nine reports, including a shooting, armed robberies, assaults and drug thefts, have been filed with Penn Hills police since last year.

The Fugitive Task Force of the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department visited the house last week to serve a warrant on a woman they thought was staying there. By the end of the week, the home was in flames after an arsonist set fire to 150 tires stacked next to the wooden-frame structure.

Robert Liberto and Donna Gessley had been living in the home, which is valued at $26,300 and owned by George Donald and Virginia Beldham, according to the county reassessment Web site.

Mark Farabaugh, 33, was shot at the home in October in what police suspect was a dispute over money. Farabaugh survived.

Warrants have been issued against the suspect in the shooting, Anthony Murray, 22, formerly of Penn Hills, who is in jail in Ohio awaiting trial on kidnapping charges, Penn Hills police Lt. Dennis Poland said.

Code enforcement officials cited Liberto and Gessley two weeks ago over the stacks of tires in the yard. About 200 more tires in the basement went up in flames with the house.

Penn Hills Fire Marshal Jack Mason said he spent much of Monday conducting interviews in the arson case. He said he has suspects in the case.

"I plan to meet with police detectives as soon as possible to discuss the case and see if there is enough information to forward to the Allegheny County District Attorney to proceed with criminal charges," he said.

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