Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Police identify suspect in homicide

by on January 03, 2013 11:00 AM

TORRANCE -- Investigators narrowed their search for a gunman wanted in a weekend slaying in Derry Township, Westmoreland County, to an Allegheny County man.

State police on Wednesday filed homicide charges against Ronell Moses Jr., 20, of the Penn Hills area, accusing him in the shooting death of Michael Volk, of New Florence, in a mobile home just outside of Blairsville.

According to a description distributed with Moses' photo, he is a black man, standing 5-feet-10 and weighing 280 pounds; troopers at Greensburg advised that he is considered to be armed and dangerous.

Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers has offered a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to Moses' arrest, police said this morning.

Since Volk's slaying early Saturday afternoon, investigators had been on the lookout for a man only known as "Mitch." A criminal complaint filed at Bradenville District Court shows police circulated a security video image showing "Mitch" in the Walmart store at Resort Plaza in Burrell Township and that "information was received" that the man in the picture was Moses.

Jesus Santiago and Tiffany Blattenberger, residents of the mobile home at 131 Quarry Road, where Volk was shot, independently selected Moses' photo from a lineup and identified him as the gunman, according to police.

Troopers reported that Volk, 24, traveled with Moses to the Walmart store on Friday, then planned with Santiago, Blattenberger and Danielle Clawson to rob Moses of drugs and money.

According to Volk's companions' account of the day, Clawson dropped off Volk at the mobile home Saturday and left with Blattenberger, then returned 20 minutes later.

Santiago met them at the door and told them "Mitch" had shot Volk.

Moses held the group at gunpoint in the kitchen, demanded Blattenberger's cellphone and placed a call to someone asking for a ride, giving directions from Indiana to the mobile home.

When Moses' ride arrived, he fled with the handgun, Blattenberger's phone and a battery from Santiago's cellphone, police said. He climbed into the passenger side of a burgundy, two-door car that drove away toward Blairsville.

When last seen, Moses wore gray sweat pants, a gray hooded sweatshirt and a gray Oakland Raiders cap.

Late Saturday, troopers charged Santiago, 42; Blattenberger, 22; and Clawson, 23, with robbery, conspiracy to robbery, and criminal homicide, holding that their actions in part led to Volk's death. All are in the Westmoreland County Jail without bond.

Troopers on Wednesday charged Moses with criminal homicide and kidnapping, both felonies, and a misdemeanor count of making terroristic threats. In light of an earlier conviction for robbery, police also charged Moses with a felony count of illegal possession of a firearm.

Online court records show Moses was charged July 23 in Pittsburgh with flight to avoid apprehension, trial or punishment and was freed from the Allegheny County Jail after posting $10,000 bond. Moses was held for trial after a preliminary hearing in November and was scheduled for formal arraignment Monday in Allegheny County Court.

The arraignment hearing has been rescheduled for Feb. 4.

Those with information about Moses are asked to contact state police at Greensburg 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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