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Fetus now considered case's fourth homicide

| Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Fayette County prosecutors said Tuesday they are now treating Sunday's shooting deaths and arson in North Union Township as a case involving four murders because one of the victims, 17-year-old Krystal Bobish, was pregnant with a baby boy.

District Attorney Nancy Vernon said she is still examining the issue of whether the fetus, in the fifth month of development, could have lived outside of the womb, the determining factor as to whether charges can be filed in the unborn child's death.

"It's a very heinous crime. There's never an ordinary homicide, but the method of execution was particularly heinous," said Lt. Richard Sethman, the crime section commander for Troop B in Washington.

The dead are Larry A. Bobish Sr., 50; his wife, Joanna M. Bobish, 42; their daughter, Krystal Bobish, and her fetus, which was in the second trimester of development.

Their bodies were so badly burned that Fayette County Coroner Dr. Phillip E. Reilly said identification of two of the bodies, while believed to be accurate, may have to await DNA testing.

"Body destruction was ... horrendous," he said.

Reilly also said the fetus, at autopsy, exhibited signs that it struggled for life.

Larry Bobish Jr., 12, was found outside the house; he had been shot in the chest. He is expected to recover and is in protective custody. Police said they have had some very limited discussions with the boy, but would not elaborate.

Vernon said state police have no suspects and are looking for tips.

"Today I urge the public to reach deep within yourself and summon the courage necessary to give us any information that you have, no matter how small," she said.

The Sunday morning fire was discovered by off-duty state police Cpl. Andre Stevens, who was helping his son deliver morning newspapers.

Stevens helped Larry Bobish Jr. and also attempted to go into the house and rescue the other family members, but he could not withstand the heat.

Lt. Sethman said the heat and the destruction resulting from the fire are consistent with an accelerant being used.

"It appears that there was a rapid acceleration of the fire," he said.

Reilly said carbon monoxide tests on the bodies of the victims showed they had only minimal exposure, meaning they likely were dead before the fire partially consumed their bodies.

"It's important for the loved ones to know that (they) expired before the fire hit," he said.

Reilly said autopsies conducted Monday in Allegheny County found that each of the three victims died of a single gunshot wound.

Larry Bobish Sr. suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest, which caused massive bleeding in the lungs. Joanna Bobish was shot in the neck, puncturing the left carotid artery and causing massive bleeding.

Krystal Bobish was shot in the right side of her face, severing her spinal cord. Reilly said her fetus died from a lack of oxygen shortly after Krystal Bobish died.

Investigators said they have found no indication that the Bobish family was trafficking in illicit drugs.

Vernon said the investigation is not concentrating on the family's history of domestic disputes. "At this point we are not looking into any aspect of suicide," she said.

Sgt. Charles Depp said police are still looking into whether Terrance Lett, 19, of Uniontown, who is accused of robbing the Bobish family of $3,500 at gunpoint on Jan. 23, had anything to do with the deaths.

Lett was in prison Sunday when the fire was set, and Vernon would not comment as to whether the case against Lett will have to be dismissed now that his accusers have died.

Police are receiving tips from ex-convicts and people now serving time, but believe that someone among the general public may have knowledge that can assist the investigation.

An award of $1,000 is being offered for tips that lead to a conviction. For more information, call Fayette County Crimestoppers at 724-437-8477, or state police at the Uniontown barracks at 724-439-7111.

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