Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Police seek tips on gunman

by on December 31, 2012 11:00 AM

TORRANCE -- State police today continued their search for a man suspected of killing a New Florence man who tried to rob him Saturday afternoon in Derry Township, Westmoreland County.

The victim, Michael Volk, died of gunshot wounds to the head, the Westmoreland County coroner's office confirmed this morning.

An autopsy performed Sunday showed no other signs of injury, said Chief Deputy Coroner Paul Cycak.

He declined to reveal how many bullet wounds Volk suffered.

Troopers at Greensburg said Volk was slain in a mobile home along Stone Quarry Road, and that three of his companions have been jailed because they knew of the robbery plan. They also have been charged with contributing to the killing.

The suspected shooter is a man known only as "Mitch." Troopers at the Greensburg station had no additional information this morning on the search for him.

Investigators said Volk, 24, arranged to meet and buy drugs from "Mitch" at 131 Stone Quarry Road, a mobile home rented by Jesus Santiago and Tiffany Blattenberger, and told them he planned to rob Mitch of his drugs and money.

Volk's girlfriend, Danielle Clawson, knew of the plan and drove Volk to the trailer, investigators learned.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Blattenberger left the trailer with Clawson and returned about 1 p.m. Saturday to find Volk dead on the floor and Mitch armed with a chrome handgun.

Volk was found lying face up in a hallway with blood coming from the back of his head and from his ear, according to police.

Mitch held Blattenberger, Clawson and Santiago at gunpoint for one-half hour and demanded Blattenberger's cellphone, placed a call and left the residence in a red and maroon two-door car with an unknown driver, police wrote.

After gathering statements from Blattenberger, 22; Santiago, 42; and Clawson, 23, police charged each of them with criminal homicide, robbery and conspiracy to robbery, online court records show.

"The actions and/or inactions of Santiago, Blattenberger and Clawson directly and/or indirectly contributed to the death of the victim," police wrote in the affidavit.

Each has been lodged at Westmoreland County Jail; all were denied bail. They are scheduled to appear Jan. 9 for preliminary hearings in the Bradenville district court.

Police continued a search for Mitch, a black man standing about 5-feet-10, weighing 180 to 200 pounds, who has a chipped front tooth, according to a description issued by investigators.

Mitch last was seen wearing gray sweat pants, a gray hooded sweatshirt and a gray Oakland Raiders cap.

According to court papers, Blattenberger said Mitch had his hair done in dreadlocks.

After Mitch talked with someone on her phone, he fled the residence and climbed into the passenger side of a "sporty"-looking car that was low to the ground, and rode away toward Blairsville, Blattenberger told police.

While police listed Volk as a resident of New Florence, a page on the Facebook social network site, believed to have been posted by Volk, identified him as a graduate of Blairsville High School and a resident of Indiana.

Online court records show Volk had a record of criminal arrests dating to 2007 in Indiana and Armstrong counties.

Volk pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one count each of criminal trespass and defiant trespass in December 2008 and was placed on two years of probation; in August 2009, he pleaded guilty to a felony count of theft and was ordered to serve two months to two years less one day in Armstrong County Jail.

In May and June of 2008, he pleaded guilty to a felony count of theft and a misdemeanor count of loitering and prowling in the Indiana County courts, and was ordered to serve nine to 23 months in jail and two years of probation.

The coroner's office reported no funeral home has been designated to handle arrangements for Volk.

Troopers asked anyone with information about the suspect to contact the Greensburg state police station at (724) 832-3288.



Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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