The coldest homicide case in Indiana County

A Civic Project story

Pauline Fumea Alexander at her kitchen table in her Blairsville home, August 4, 2016. Photo by David Loomis.

Pauline Fumea Alexander at her kitchen table in her Blairsville home, August 4, 2016. Photo by David Loomis.

By The HawkEye staff

BLAIRSVILLE — Pauline Fumea Alexander, 79, has known who murdered her husband since a couple of teenage boys found his decomposing bullet-riddled remains by a swimming hole near here on a broiling Sept. 23, 1985.

“He was the last person to see my husband alive,” Alexander said over coffee and pie on May 19 at Dean’s Diner on U.S. Route 22. “And he wouldn’t take a lie detector.”

Alexander’s allegations regale a group of regulars gathered around her vinyl and Formica booth, a Greek chorus recalling the killing, accusing their prime suspect and recounting the confrontations that have shadowed him here ever since, they say. The man they suspect, a Blairsville resident, has had run-ins with local authorities for offenses that range from moving violations to drug violations, police and court records report.

But Pauline Alexander says she does not know why authorities have not arrested the man she suspects of killing her husband, David John “Dave” Alexander, 34, an informant for a county-based state police drug-investigation task force, on the night of Sept. 16, 1985. Hundreds of times she has asked local, state and federal officials for information about the case, she says. The answers vary depending on when and whom she asks.

At her husband’s funeral, one Indiana County court official assured her, “ ‘We’re making arrests soon,’ ” she recalls. “’We’re 99 percent sure we can get a murderer off the street.’ ”

Dave and Pauline Alexander, Blairsville, 1985. Submitted photo.

Dave and Pauline Alexander, Blairsville, 1985. Submitted photo.

Soon after her husband’s death, police came to Pauline’s home to search Dave Alexander’s effects. “ ‘We’re sure a person or persons are close by,’ ” they assured her, she says.

But within the past year, another local court official demurred, “ ‘We don’t want to implicate an innocent man.’ ”

And in spring 2016 a former county court official, struck up a conversation at the Italian Club, where she works. “ ‘Pauline, you know who did it,’ ” she says the official told her.

Other residents of this dwindling manufacturing town on the banks of the Conemaugh River have echoed Pauline’s accusations and frustrations.

Her late mother-in-law would drive around town in a car bearing signs with the accused killer’s name. She would confront him when she encountered him on the street, at the store, demanding, “Killed anyone lately?”

A woman in Dean’s Diner recalls, “I spit in his wings one night when I was 22, working at a bar.”

Pauline says she sees him on the street.

“He gives me a hug, and, ‘Hey, how you doing?’” she says. “I cry every day. it’s terrible.”

She pauses, brightens.

“Sept. 16 will be our four-month anniversary,” she says – 31 years and four months since their May 16, 1985, wedding.

David J. Alexander's headstone.

David J. Alexander’s headstone.

And according to the date on the headstone on David J. Alexander’s grave in the Saints Simon & Jude Cemetery on old U.S. Route 119 on the outskirts of town, today is the anniversary of her husband’s homicide.

 

THE THREE decades since Dave Alexander’s death have seen five U.S. presidents, have more than doubled the price of a first-class postage stamp, have nearly doubled the price of a gallon of gas, have driven the Dow Jones to above 18,000 from below 1,600, have more than quadrupled the cost of tuition at nearby Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and have seen the nation’s illegal and deadly drug of choice shift to opioids from cocaine.

Alexander’s homicide preceded by nine months the death of University of Maryland All-American basketball star Len Bias from an overdose of cocaine. That stirred Congress to surge the nation’s war on drugs, already boosted by First Lady Nancy Reagan’s early-1980s “Just Say No” ad campaign. And it helped inaugurate an era of mass incarceration, only now winding down amid bipartisan calls for judicial reform.

But no arrests have been made in the drug case that is Dave Alexander’s homicide. And the reasons can be as confusing as the official explanations offered to Pauline Alexander.

 

SOME AUTHORITIES in Indiana County also have wondered why it has taken so long to solve the Dave Alexander case — and whether the information he gathered as a state police informant included misuse of illegal drugs that reached into the county courthouse. These local officials, among other sources, are identified in a recently disclosed cache of more than 120 pages of state police investigative documents.

About a third of the pages are copies of reports held in the police agency’s estimated 300-plus-page file in its Indiana barracks. About two-thirds of the disclosed documents are internal memorandums produced by and for state police officers and supervisors.

The documents, contained in an inch-and-a-half-thick, black-vinyl-clad, loose-leaf binder, were provided to The HawkEye by a whistleblower in May. Current and former state police officers verified the contents of the documents in interviews by phone and in person.

The documents include chronologies, general investigative reports, affidavits of probable cause, witness-interview transcripts, and correspondence, both internal and external. The materials reveal confidential police investigative information that is usually protected from public disclosure by state law. (See “How this story was reported” sidebar, below.)

The documents shed new light on the case, including:

— descriptions of a secret state grand jury proceeding

— questions about the local justice system’s handling of the case

— documentation of suspected (but unproven) corruption within the Indiana County judicial system

— involvement of the FBI in the corruption investigation

Despite the trove of investigative intelligence, no indictments have been issued, and no arrests have been made.

 

THE STORY of Dave Alexander’s murder has been re-told in local news media. Twenty years after the homicide, The Indiana Gazette published a lengthy June 19, 2005, front-page feature based largely on interviews.

The Gazette prominently quoted Robert J. “Bob” Alexander, Dave Alexander’s older brother, who had aggressively lobbied police and court officials.

Recently, however, Bob Alexander, 71, said “not a lot has been happening” in the investigation of his sibling’s homicide. And he has avoided Blairsville.

“If I go anywhere near there now, I get bad feelings,” he said in a Sept. 8 telephone interview from his family-owned freight and consulting business in Homer City.

But Bob Alexander commended a retired Pennsylvania State Police investigator for pressing the case aggressively, even after his retirement from the police force.

Bob Alexander, like his sister-in-law Pauline Alexander, is quick to name the same suspect in his brother’s murder.

“Everybody knows that,” Bob Alexander said. The suspect “was a top drug lord for many people, including officials in Indiana” where in the 1980s “cocaine was as rampant as beer.”

The suspect killed his brother because his brother stole the suspect’s coke, Bob Alexander said, acknowledging that his younger sibling was “a tough kid.”

“He did 10 years in prison,” Bob Alexander said. “He was a scrapper.”

A man who responded to the same name as the suspect identified by Bob and Pauline Alexander declined comment on the Dave Alexander murder case when he was reached on a cell phone on Sept. 8.

“I’m not interested in talking about it,” the suspect said. He suggested a different source instead – one of Dave Alexander’s relatives by marriage — before adding, “Thank you,” and hanging up.

 

BOB ALEXANDER’S local-officials-and-illegal-drugs narrative is echoed in various forms and in many tellings of his brother’s killing. Some of the narratives are included in the state-police investigative documents supplied by the whistleblower.

The stories — official and unofficial versions — are reminiscent of an Elmore Leonard crime novel, populated with colorful street-wise characters ranging from grifters to ex-cons, acquaintances and accomplices, ex-wives and ex-girlfriends.

Homicide victim Dave Alexander, for example, was an ex-Marine, a convicted felon on parole for an aggravated-burglary sentence in Ohio and an informant for a state-police vice unit investigating illegal drug activity in Indiana County.

The man suspected of his murder was named and described in an FBI document as “the largest drug dealer in the area.”

A state police “general investigative report” dated Sept. 12, 2001, concludes that a key witness in the case had a “credibility issue.” Other witnesses include jailhouse snitches. One suspect’s nickname was “Poopie.” A popular hangout among the circle was called Skunk’s Bar.

But the documents also include detailed summaries –- and in one case a transcript -– of interviews with witnesses who name the Alexanders’ primary suspect and another. Affadavits of probable cause for the arrest of the two suspects are included in the files. No arrests ever were made.

 

THE DOCUMENTS also describe people in authority in local, state and federal government.

The files include, for example, a 13-page typewritten chronology that reports a May 8, 2001, meeting among Indiana-based state police investigators, state police supervisors and county District Attorney Robert “Bob” Bell, who served from 1995-2007. After Bell departed the meeting, the chronology reports, state police officers discussed the “possibility of well-known people being drug customers,” based on an interview of a potential witness.

According to the chronologies, Bell’s approach to the investigation alternated between aggressive and reticent. The documents suggest that a conflict of interest might explain Bell’s “foot-dragging.”

State police Capt. Bernard J. Petrovsky recalled Bell’s drawn-out decision to request that the state attorney general’s office take the case off his hands. Reached by phone at the state police Punxsutawney office on Sept. 8, Petrovsky was asked whether Bell had a conflict in the case.

“I have an idea,” Petrovsky said. “But I won’t elaborate.”

One of Petrovsky’s fellow state police supervisors did elaborate. (See sidebar, “A heckuva homicide case,” below.)

In June 2003, Bell handed off the case to the state attorney general’s office. The documents report that Bell cited “manpower issues”; the attorney general’s office cited “political improprieties.”

Several messages seeking comment in August 2016 were left at the local home phone number of former district attorney Bell. The calls were not returned.

 

ONE VARIATION of the local-officials-and-drugs narratives cropped up in the press in September 2010. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published a story that asked newly elected Indiana County District Attorney Thomas M. Bianco the status of the cold case and the involvement of prominent people and illegal drugs.

Indiana Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas M. Bianco. File photo.

Indiana Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas M. Bianco. File photo.

But questions about illegal drugs and local officials reach dead ends. Reasons include official refusal to respond.

Bianco, now an Indiana County Court of Common Pleas judge, recently declined comment on the Alexander case by citing canons of the state judiciary’s Code of Conduct.

“These canons demand impartiality,” Bianco wrote in an Aug. 29 email, adding that one of the rules “prohibits me from commenting on this impending matter.”

Is the Alexander homicide case “impending”? Is something about to happen? Current Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty won’t comment about what he described as the coldest of Indiana County’s cold-case homicide investigations.

“I have to be very careful,” Dougherty said in a Sept. 7 phone interview from his office. “Yes, I have reviewed it. Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about it.”

Dougherty said he signed a secrecy oath “within the past 24 months,” promising the state attorney general’s office not to discuss the Alexander case in public.

“I got nothing to tell,” Dougherty said.

 

BUT QUESTIONS persist. And the state-police investigative files add to them.

Prominent among the files is a letter addressed to then-Indiana County District Attorney William J. Martin. The one-and-a-half-page “Dear Mr. Martin” hand-written document in a neat script threatens to release to news media and to state- and federal-government officials cassette tapes containing evidence of “corruption, bribery, obstruction of justice, intimidation of victims and witnesses, accepting of bribes, thefts, breaking and entering, drug use, drug distribution, denial of civil rights, denial of due process and a s***load of other felonious acts which when investigated thoroughly will shake the foundation of the county.”

A photocopy of the opening portion of the "Dear Mr. Martin" letter analyzed by the FBI and documented in a December 2005 letter from a federal agent to Pennsylvania state police. Click to enlarge.

A photocopy of the opening portion of the “Dear Mr. Martin” letter analyzed by the FBI and documented in a December 2005 letter from a federal agent to Pennsylvania state police. Click to enlarge.

The letter continues:

“All I ask, Mr. Martin, is to be left alone. That’s all I want. End it now and forever. Otherwise, I have no alternative but to ‘fight fire with fire’ to ensure my wish is complied with now and in the future.

“I do believe ‘disgression [sic] is the better part of valor,’ as you so aptly put it.

“In closing, you might find it prudent to examine the weak case filed and its lack of evidence to avoid wasting taxpayers money pursuing it any farther [sic]. I thank you for this consideration.”

The letter is signed, “Sincerely, Jerry.”

It is not dated. But an FBI analysis pegged it at 1988 or 1989.

The federal agency’s review was documented in a Dec. 21, 2005, typewritten analysis on letterhead from a supervisory special agent in the Behavior Analysis Unit at the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, Critical Incident Response Group, at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.

The agent cautioned that his analysis was “based on probabilities” and was no substitute for a “thorough, well-planned investigation.” The analysis continued:

— The author of the hand-written “Dear Mr. Martin” letter used the personal pronouns I, me and my, not “we.”

— The letter made no physical threats.

— The letter-writer addressed the “death of a police informant” by asserting, “I did not do it.”

The FBI analysis continues:

— “The writer, however, does not say that he had nothing to do with the murder and may have been involved in ordering or paying for the murder and actions after the murder.”

— “The overriding theme in this letter is that the writer feels that he has some sort of collusive relationship with members of the criminal justice system in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, and he has a right to be left alone and not prosecuted. He feels he has earned or paid (through bribery) for this right.”

— “The writer signed the letter simply ‘Jerry,’ indicating that the recipient had a relationship close enough with him to recognize who he was without using his last name.”

In 1991, District Attorney Martin was elevated by voters to Indiana County’s Court of Common Pleas, where he now serves as presiding judge. During his 1983-1991 tenure as D.A., he brought no charges in the Alexander case.

Indiana County Court of Common Pleas President Judge William J. Martin. From the court's website.

Indiana County Court of Common Pleas President Judge William J. Martin. From the court’s website.

On August 19, Martin received by phone and by email at his county courthouse office messages with questions about the Alexander case. Two weeks later, he declined comment, through a spokeswoman.

“He is not able to comment on that case,” his secretary said in a Sept. 2 phone call. “So, you won’t be hearing from him.”

FBI involvement in the Alexander case ended in March 2006, according to a March 14, 2006, “general investigative report” included in the state-police documents. The report says a Western Pennsylvania-based FBI agent contacted state police on March 9 to advise that “further federal action on this matter as of this time would not be feasible.”

The agent could not be reached for comment when called on August 16 and 19, 2016.

 

NO ONE ever has interviewed Martin about the Alexander case or the “Jerry” letter, according to retired state police detective Jeffrey M. “Jeff” Witmer, 56, who still lives in Indiana County. Witmer was the lead investigator on the Alexander case for 14 years before his January 2007 retirement after 25 years on the force, mostly served in the Indiana barracks.

Since then, he has worked as a part-time taxi driver in Indiana and has actively continued to press for prosecutorial and judicial action in the case. Bob Alexander and Pauline Alexander, among others, praise Witmer for his persistence.

Others involved in the case are not so appreciative.

A chronology included in the state police documents recounts an August 2001 meeting in which a superior officer said Witmer was “working too hard on the case.”

“They weren’t being benevolent,” Witmer said in a June 13 interview in a Philadelphia Street restaurant.

In other interviews Witmer recounted efforts by other superiors and officials to call him off the investigation.

An investigator for the state attorney general’s office told Witmer in November 2013 at the Eat’n Park Restaurant in Indiana that the A.G.’s office would not bring indictments in the case, Witmer said in a July 27 interview in a Philadelphia Street coffee shop. The investigator said the decision was based in part on Witmer’s “coaching” of witnesses, but the investigator refused to substantiate the allegation.

Witmer acknowledged a reputation for being a relentless detective in the crime unit of the Indiana state police barracks. But he denied the allegation of coaching – the unethical leading of prospective witnesses in court cases to respond to attorneys’ questions in a rehearsed and biased way.

“If I had that reputation, then I wouldn’t have been in the crime unit for long,” Witmer said.

Witmer’s annual job evaluations covering virtually every year of his employment from 1994-1995 until 2005-2006 rate his overall performance as “commendable” to “outstanding.” A July 26, 2006, performance review six months before Witmer’s retirement included praise from a superior:

“Dedication to the people of the Commonwealth. Trooper Witmer has done many fine investigations for citizens and has been requested, on occasion, to personally do investigations by people who know his work…. He has been a superior investigator and a pleasure to supervise.”

Representatives of the state attorney general’s office, however, took a dimmer view.

In a Nov. 29, 2004, letter to the commander of the Indiana state police office, Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony J. Krastek in Pittsburgh wrote: “I am indeed aware of the investigative efforts expended by your agency and, in particular, the enthusiasm of Trooper Jeffrey M. Witmer. I suppose I count myself, however, among the group of various prosecutors ‘who have reviewed the case and have thus far declined to prosecute, citing a lack of evidence.’”

Nevertheless, in late 2006 and early 2007, the attorney general’s office held secret grand jury hearings in Pittsburgh. Witnesses were called. (The number is disputed.) No indictments were issued.

A 2010 homicide investigation action report contained in the state police files recounts a June 24, 2010, meeting in Harrisburg among state police investigators and supervisors and controversial state Assistant Attorney General Frank Fina.

“First, it was determined at this meeting that there was no evidence or indication through this investigation that there was any type of corruption or cover up on the part of the Indiana County District Attorney’s office or any members of the Pennsylvania State Police at the time of this incident,” the report asserts.

The report ends with a summary of Fina’s critique.

“’There is no way to prove this case,’” Fina is quoted as saying. “Continuing to investigate would be a waste of time and resources.”

 

WITMER is undaunted. He asserts that superiors have attempted to make him a scapegoat to evade questions about corruption, coverups and drugs among powerful people –- and about the Alexander murder.

“I’ve worked here a long time,” Witmer said in a May 22 interview at a Philadelphia Street eatery. “I am not Sherlock Holmes. But other cases have been re-opened with less.”

He added in a July 27 interview: “You can get an indictment for a ham sandwich. In my experience, I can’t figure out why this case was not prosecuted. The excuses are so shallow.”

He cited the example of the indictment and 1982 conviction in an Indiana County courtroom of Lewis “Jim” Fogle for the 1976 rape and murder of Deanne Katherine “Kathy” Long, 15, of Cherry Tree. William Martin was an assistant county district attorney when Fogle was convicted.

In August 2015, a judge struck down Fogle’s conviction and life-in-prison sentence following discovery of DNA evidence that showed he was not the assailant. Fogle had served 34 years behind bars.

His 1982 conviction, Witmer noted, rested primarily on the testimony of a jailhouse snitch.

 

WITMER’S questions have drawn the attention of Indiana County lawmakers.

The state police investigative documents include a March 10, 2010, letter addressed to then-Gov. Tom Corbett from Rodney D. Ruddock, then-chairman of the Indiana County Commissioners. Ruddock still serves on the board.

“It would appear that a re-examination of the case regarding the 1985 homicide of David Alexander, which occurred in Indiana County, would be worthy of your personal consideration,” Ruddock wrote.

A similar letter to the governor dated March 1, 2010, called Corbett’s attention to Witmer’s efforts. It was signed by state Sen. Don White, R-Indiana.

The state police file includes no replies from the former governor.

Mike Baker, a two-term Indiana County coroner prior to his appointment to the county commissioners in 2014, his election in 2015 and his elevation to chairman in 2016, wrote a letter to the state attorney general’s office in 2011 to inquire about convening a coroner’s inquest into the Alexander case. He cited Witmer.

“He’s a good guy,” Baker said in an August 31 phone interview. “He has a particular passion for this case. He really does.”

Like others, Baker’s effort hit a dead-end.

“I never got a reply,” Baker said.

 

IN EARLY September, Pauline Alexander called the state police barracks in Indiana to ask for news about the Dave Alexander case. A trooper told her “fingernail scrapings” had been sent to a forensics lab in Greensburg. She was hopeful.

A message left for the trooper on Sept. 8 was not returned.

Witmer said DNA analysis of evidence in the Alexander case has been performed several times before without result.

“There’s enough to make an arrest now,” he wrote in a Sept. 8 email.

 

WHILE she awaits developments, Pauline tends bar at the Italian Club and plays keyboards at the local Catholic Church. A younger brother, Wayne T. Fumea, 70, retired and living in Blairsville, visits.

Pauline Alexander at her late husband's grave, the Saints Simon & Jude Cemetery, old U.S. Route 119, Blairsville, August 4, 2016. Photo by David Loomis.

Pauline Alexander at her late husband’s grave, the Saints Simon & Jude Cemetery, old U.S. Route 119, Blairsville, August 4, 2016. Photo by David Loomis.

On August 4, they drive across town to Saints Simon & Jude Cemetery on old U.S. Route 119 to Dave Alexander’s grave. It’s a hot, sunny summer day, like the weather in mid-September 1985, 31 years ago.

On the way, they pass a modest, low apartment building where a man waves from the shade in front. Pauline and Wayne wave back.

Who was that man?

They name their suspect in Dave Alexander’s murder.

”It’s a small town,” Wayne Fumea explains. “We gotta live here.”

 
 
 

Sidebar: ‘A heckuva homicide case’

Retired Lt. James Fulmer served as commander of the crime section of the Southwestern Pennsylvania state police district that includes Indiana County. Before his retirement in 2008 after nearly 26 years of service, he supervised the agency’s investigation of the 1985 Dave Alexander homicide.

psp-shoulder-patch

“It was a heckuva homicide case,” Fulmer, 54, recalled in a Sept. 16 phone and email interview from his Westmoreland County home.

A decade ago, Fulmer and his regional crime investigators rated all the unsolved felonies in the four-county district according to “solvability factors,” he said. Of the 39 cases, the Alexander homicide case ranked near the top of the list.

“It might have been No. 1 or No. 2,” Fulmer said. “When we looked at that case, it was a ‘Eureka!’ moment.”

But Fulmer said he does not know why the case was not prosecuted when Indiana County District Attorney Robert “Bob” Bell handed it off to the state attorney general’s office in June 2003. Fulmer faulted the A.G.’s office for its handling of the investigation and of the grand jury it convened in Pittsburgh in 2006 and 2007.

“I recall that something like 10 witnesses were reported to have been called before the grand jury,” Fulmer said. “There were three witnesses called. And none of them had relevant testimony. The fix has been in on this case for a long, long time.”

_____________________________

‘The fix has been in on this case for a long, long time.’

— Pennsylvania State Police Lt. James Fulmer (retired)

_____________________________

The A.G.’s office made what Fulmer regarded as basic mistakes.

“I remember them saying, ‘We can’t rely on jailhouse snitches,’” Fulmer said. “But you just don’t discount someone just because they are a jailhouse snitch.”

Additionally, leads in the case were not explored by prominent state prosecutor Frank Fina, Fulmer said.

“There are a number of things in this case that a brand-new investigator would know to do,” Fulmer said. “And it appears that Mr. Fina didn’t.”

Fina left his job under a cloud in June. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fulmer continued:

“There were people who you have to scratch your head and ask, ‘Why not’?’ It’s so fundamental. It’s inexcusable. There is a shame in leaving a lead unexplored.”

For example, Fulmer cited “Jerry,” a suspect in the case whose name appears throughout state police investigative documents released recently by a whistleblower. (See main story, above.)

“He was a significant person of interest,” Fulmer said. “This is something that needs looked into.”

Fulmer again faulted the A.G.’s office.

“I never heard from them again,” he said.

 

FULMER was circumspect when describing Indiana County players in the Alexander investigation:

Were Indiana County prosecutors, the first to handle the case, also at fault?

“It’s altogether possible,” Fulmer said.

Is Indiana County Court of Common Pleas President Judge William J. Martin, a former county district attorney who was the first prosecutor to handle the Alexander homicide, at fault?

“Judge Martin is very powerful in Indiana County,” Fulmer replied. “He’s a powerful man.”

Fulmer reserved praise for a subordinate, state police Tpr. Jeffrey M. “Jeff” Witmer, who investigated the Alexander case for 14 years before his 2007 retirement. Fulmer said Witmer was singled out for criticism by state attorney general’s office representatives for leading witnesses in interviews.

“They’re trying to make Jeff Witmer out to be a bad guy,” Fulmer said. “’Leading’? That was appalling. Don’t let anybody tell you Jeff Witmer is a whack job. That’s somebody trying to shut things down.”

Fulmer acknowledged that the victim, Dave Alexander, a state police drug informant on parole for a felony for which he served 10 years in an Ohio prison, “was not a professor.”

“But you treat everybody the same,” Fulmer said. “Somebody is dead. It’s a homicide, for god’s sake.”

 

Sidebar: How this story was reported

In May 2016, a whistleblower supplied The HawkEye with 120-plus pages of documents from a Pennsylvania State Police file on the agency’s investigation of a 1985 homicide that occurred near Blairsville. The documents amount to about a third of the complete state-police investigative file of more than 300 pages, according to the whistleblower.

Such criminal investigative records are protected from public disclosure under the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law, enacted in 2009. However, as established by such U.S. Supreme Court precedents as the 1971 New York Times v. U.S. decision, news media may publish, without risk of government censorship or punishment, classified information supplied by whistleblowers.

The information in the state police file on the September 1985 homicide of David John Alexander, 34, an ex-Marine, convicted felon on parole for an aggravated-burglary sentence in Ohio and informant working for an Indiana, Pa., state-police vice unit investigating illegal drug activity, is sometimes conflicting, confusing and redundant. It includes numerous hearsay statements provided by human sources who are well known to police, either directly or by association.

The state police investigative information also contains something that has been missing from earlier news coverage of the case – documents created and kept by investigators that cover a period of three decades. Much of previous news coverage about the case has been based on interviews with human sources, both public officials and private citizens.

Also missing from earlier news coverage is the involvement of the FBI. The Alexander case in earlier news coverage has been told largely by local and state authorities. Federal involvement has not been previously reported.

During the summer of 2016, reporters for The HawkEye examined the investigative documents and verified the information they contain. Attempts were made to reach more than a dozen local, state and federal authorities cited in the files to gather reaction or to seek verification. Sources who did not respond to requests for interviews or reactions were cited accordingly or not included in this story.

The story does not identify crime suspects named in the state police documents. The HawkEye’s policy is to publish names of suspects after they have been indicted or arraigned by court officials.

Similarly, The HawkEye granted the whistleblower anonymity to protect the whistleblower from possible reprisal.

 

Sidebar: For more information

For more information about the Dave Alexander homicide case, contact the following official sources cited in our story:

Lt. Robert L. Clark Jr.
Station commander
Pennsylvania State Police
Indiana barracks, Troop A
4221 Route 286 Highway West
Indiana, PA 15701
Phone: 724-357-1960
Fax: 724-357-1964
Web: http://www.psp.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Col. Tyree C. Blocker
Commissioner
Pennsylvania State Police Department Headquarters
1800 Elmerton Ave.
Harrisburg, Pa 17110
Phone: 717 783-5599

Hon. William J. Martin
President judge
Indiana County Court of Common Pleas
Phone: (724)465-3961
Hon. Thomas M. Bianco
Judge
Phone: 724 465-3958
Indiana County Courthouse
825 Philadelphia St.
Indiana, Pa. 15701
Web: http://www.countyofindiana.org/Depts/Courts/Pages/default.aspx

Patrick Dougherty
District attorney
Indiana County Courthouse
825 Philadelphia St.
Indiana, Pa. 15701
Phone: 724-465-3835
Web: http://www.countyofindiana.org/Depts/DA/Pages/default.aspx

Federal Bureau of Investigation
3311 E Carson St.
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15203
Phone: 412 432-4000

Bruce Beemer
Pennsylvania attorney general
Strawberry Square
Harrisburg, Pa. 17120
Phone: 717 787 3391

Ethan C. Brogan, of Pittsburgh, a senior majoring in journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Logan Hullinger, a junior journalism major at IUP from Clarion, contributed reporting. David Loomis edited.

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