Here is a look at the top stories of local interest published in The Indiana Gazette during the week of March 23-29:
SUNDAY, MARCH 23
A domesticated pig escaped from its pen in White Township and dodged authorities for several hours Saturday in Indiana. The pig, later identified as Sambo, was caught and eventually returned to its owner, Mark Musser and his family in the East Pike area.
Lisa Wier, the manager of the kennel at the Humane Society animal shelter along Rose Street, said the pig was claimed and taken home Sunday. Sambo went unnoticed all the way to the residential neighborhoods in southeastern Indiana Borough, where Washington Street residents first phoned the borough police just after 2 p.m. to report their sightings of the 325 pound animal.
MONDAY, MARCH 24
State police in Indiana charged Kevin Donald Peterman, 26, of Indiana, with trying to hire someone to kill his estranged girlfriend. Peterman is facing single counts of criminal solicitation to commit homicide and criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault, both felonies, and a misdemeanor count of making terroristic threats.
According to police, Peterman had called a person, whom police did not identify, looking to have his estranged girlfriend, Amanda George, killed. However, the would-be hit man Peterman allegedly had asked, reported the matter to state police on Friday afternoon. While troopers listened in, the person called Peterman to arrange a meeting. During the conversation, Peterman offered to pay the person $5,000 to kill George, police said. They then agreed to meet the next afternoon at the Sheetz convenience store on Warren Road.
TUESDAY, MARCH 25
Three IUP students and two other people are facing charges in relation to incidents that took place during the student celebration of St. Patrick’s Day three weekends ago. According to Indiana Borough police, four of the five took part in a moving fight that was well documented by reveling students and widely posted to social media sites, including YouTube.
The fifth person, police said, taunted officers — and recorded himself doing so — as the officers tried to disperse a large crowd that had spilled out of off-campus student homes and onto South Seventh Street. The focal point of the three-day weekend, which began March 7, was the gathering of that crowd on March 9.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26
A Saltsburg man awaiting trial on homicide charges from the Dec. 31 slaying of a Tunnelton gun shop owner now faces additional accusations that he extorted more than $146,000 from the victim over the past year. State police charged Jack Edmundson Jr., 43, on Tuesday with demanding the money from Frank Petro by claiming to be an undercover police officer investigating the sale of illegal lottery tickets, and promising to keep Petro from being charged in exchange for the cash.
In a lengthy criminal complaint filed this morning in Blairsville district court, Trooper Jason Morgan outlined a pattern of luxurious spending and gambling funded in part by Edmundson’s own participation in the underground lottery ticket scheme.
THURSDAY, MARCH 27
A Blairsville man has been ordered to serve 20 years in a federal prison for producing child pornography and distributing it on the Internet.
Charles Joseph Payson III, 46, of East Campbell Street, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to 20 years of incarceration and lifetime parole for his guilty plea to sexually exploiting children by producing sexually explicit images.
Indiana County investigators in late 2012 discovered Payson furnishing the images from his home, using a neighbor’s wireless Internet connection, and confiscated computers and cameras from his home, according to court records.
FRIDAY, MARCH 28
Witnesses testified Thursday that a brief traffic delay in downtown Indiana led to an altercation that escalated into a shooting in a White Township parking lot. At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing, Magisterial District Court Judge Guy Haberl ruled that Eagan Minich, 29, of Old Route 56, White Township, was held for court on a charge of attempted homicide, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of making terroristic threats.
Minich is accused of punching, then shooting, Hayden Warmke, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania criminology student from Hollidaysburg, in the parking lot of the Maple Town Houses, 565 Maple St., in White Township, shortly after 2 a.m. Jan. 30. Minich has been incarcerated at the Indiana County Jail on $250,000 bail since he surrendered to state police the day after the shooting.
o o o
The Indiana Gazette has won a dozen Keystone Press awards from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association in this year’s contest, the newspaper’s highest tally ever. All told, the Gazette won five first-place awards, four second-place awards and three honorable mentions.
The Gazette competed in a division comprising newspapers in Pennsylvania with a circulation of 20,000 or less for material published in 2013.
SATURDAY, MARCH 29
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency has agreed to take up a review of events that occurred during the recent IUPatty’s Day celebration and the response to them, the agency announced Friday. Called an after-action review, it is something IUP officials sought following the disruptions and arrests that took place during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, held before students left for spring break.
The celebration’s three days of partying caused general disturbances throughout Indiana Borough, beginning Thursday, March 6, and concluding in the early hours of Sunday, March 9.
But most of the attention has been on the large crowd that formed on that Saturday and spilled onto South Seventh Street.