The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 16, 1990 · Page 1
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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 1

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Sunday, December 16, 1990
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H The Pittsburgh Pre SCRIPPS HOWARD Vi 1 r i in? 1VT ni rv r n In Pittsburgh and tti Pa Counties of Alleohenv, Armstrong, Beaver, ..i-m -tt y irww Vol. 107, No. 174 One Dollar Sj&rot&tS SUIN DAY, DECEMBER 16, 1990 Sumlay Edition 12-16-666 Dead or aliue; Guard stitt key to 1987 platinum theft By Dennis B. Roddy The Pittsburgh Press BRADFORD - Long after they'd stopped firing their pistols at skunks on the wooded hillsides around here. Dale Kerstetter and Bob Hartle still called their beery nighttime sojourns "skunk runs." They'd sit in the perfect darkness of the back roads that lace the Allegheny National Forest, kill off six-packs of beer, smoke, get tipsy and talk. And never once, said Hartle, did his best , friend, in the expansive moments lubricated by liquor, confide any plans to steal a quarter-million dollars' worth of platinum from the local glass plant and then vanish. "That would be the time you'd think someone would let something slip. But that never happened," said Hartle, nursing a beer at Tack's Bar, from which so many skunk runs began before Dale disappeared. "That's why I just can't believe it." That's also why Hartle and some others believe Dale Kerstetter is dead. So certain are some of Kerstet-ter's friends and relatives that one of his daughters petitioned the courts to have him declared dead, convinced he died in the robbery of $250,000 in platinum from the Corning Glass plant. This month, Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled against the family after deciding much as everyone else has that the evidence is too vague, the clues too confusing. Even a videotape that appears to record the robbery is, much like the other clues, too blurry for certainty. Just what people here believe happened to Dale Kerstetter depends on the degree of friendship, and, sometimes, the very hour of day. There are those who think Kerstetter, after 29 years with Corning Glass, joined a masked man who appeared on a surveillance video tape in the waning hours of Sept. 12, 1987, and made off with the platinum lining from the plant's glassmaking furnace. In the process, the scenario goes, he abandoned job, family, pension, ex-wives and all his hunting rifles. "I've represented tons of guys that left their wives, and, believe me, they always take their deer rifles," said James Bryant, a lawyer who represented one of Kerstetter's daughters in the failed attempt to have him declared dead. "This case doesn't fit neatly into any particular theory," said Fred Gallup, the attorney for Corning, which argued against declaring Kerstetter dead. Coming's position in court has been that Kerstetter is just ,as likely a participant in the robbery as the victim of a slaying. The company has refused to turn over any of his pension or insurance money to the six Kerstetter children. "I think he's dead. It's just a matter of finding the body," said Please see Kerstetter, A7 " 'r-V' iV' '''v. " jf H jjj : 1 Dave YoderThe Pittsburgh Press Music critics Alexandra Russo, 6, of Carrick wasn't exactly enthralled with Josh Edery, 6, of Monroeville, and the feeling definitely was mutual. The youngsters were preparing for their first piano recital yesterday at Duquesne University's School of Music. Both children are in a class for beginners, taught by Natasha Snitkovsky of the City Music Center. Iraq defies Bush on date for talks as rhetoric heats Associated Press Iraq insisted yesterday that it alone will set the date for direct U.S.Iraqi talks in Baghdad, and the White House said the disagreement over dates indicates Iraq is not serious about seeking peace. One month before a U.N. deadline for Iraq to give up Kuwait, Baghdad gave no hint it was ready to consider a pullout. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said he did not rule out reconciliation, but repeated that the emirate is irrevocably "part of Iraq." He also said Iraq would rather plunge into "pools of blood up to our chests" than retreat from its principles. The army newspaper Al-Qadis-siya vowed that Iraq will never retreat from Kuwait, which it considers its own province. Another Iraqi newspaper, the daily Al-Jum-huriya, said, Iraq was ready to "rip the enemies' bodies apart." Some Democratic senators visiting American troops in the Saudi desert expressed worry that the two sides are moving closer to war, now that U.S.-Iraqi talks have been sidetracked by the dispute over dates. "My sense is that the prospects of war are greater than they were two weeks ago in large part because of the way in which he (Hussein) is using the meeting as a form of manipulation rather than serious discussion," said Sen. Bob Graham of Florida. Washington has rejected the Iraqi-proposed date of Jan. 12 for a meeting between Hussein and Secretary of State James A. Baker III in Baghdad. The United States says that is too close to the Jan. 15 Security Council deadline, and has An editorial, "The war-powers suit," Page B2. suggested other dates. But Iraq's ruling Revolutionary Command Council declared in a statement yesterday that "Iraq alone has the right to fix dates for foreign officials to meet its president." The statement was carried by the official Iraqi News Agency and monitored in Nicosia, Cyprus. The Iraqi outburst came one day after President Bush told reporters in Washington he had offered Iraq a choice of 15 dates in the next three weeks for high-level talks and Hussein "ought to take one of them." He also said that if Hussein had time to meet with private envoys such as boxer Muhammad Ali or former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, surely he had time for Baker. A spokesman for the Revolutionary Command Council accused Bush of lying about having proposed 15 dates, INA said. The spokesman, who was not identified, said Bush "only proposed two options either for the meeting to be held on 20, 21 or 22 of December or on Jan. 3, which we said were not appropriate." "Those who want peace should not make noises about the dates," the spokesman added. Because of the disagreement over Baker's visit to Iraq, Bush said Friday that Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz's trip to Washington for talks with Bush was on hold. Both sides had previously said they did not object to tomorrow as a date for those talks. "We have communicated to the Iraqis that mutually satisfactory; Please see Iraq, A 19 Army, U.N. observers provide security for Haiti election PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) The government closed the Dominican border and barred private citizens from carrying weapons on the eve of Haiti's first attempt to hold democratic elections since a 1987 election day massacre. The army urged "calm and serenity" and said it would take whatever measures necessary to ensure a safe election today. In a statement published by the state-run newspaper L'Union, the Army High Command said it reaffirmed its commitment "to do every-thing possible to guarantee maximum security." In a series of security measures announced yesterday, the provisional civilian government closed the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic until Tuesday. The two countries share the island of Hispaniola. Officials gave no reason for the move, but there has been talk of worry about the possibility of armed mercenaries crossing the border to disrupt the election. The government, led by President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, also prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages during the election period and restricted traffic today to cars with election permits and a few bus and taxi companies. Vans flying blue-and-white United Nations flags ferried international election monitors around the city. Police stopped cars on John Brown Avenue, the main thoroughfare, and checked for registration papers, but the security forces were mostly out of sight. No problems were reported from the countryside, and expectations of a successful election were running high. "It looks, as far as anyone can tell, A-OK," said Ismael Diallo of the African nation of Burkina Faso, spokesman for the 130-member U.N. monitoring team, which includes 64 unarmed military security advisers. Haiti's last attempt to hold democratic elections, on Nov. 29, 1987, was aborted when assassins supported by the army shot and hacked to death at least 34 people at polling stations and in the streets. Subsequent elections' in January 1988 were controlled by the army and boycotted by most leading contenders in the previous election. The only disturbance so far in this campaign Was a grenade-and-bomb attack Dec. 5 that killed seven peo- pie and wounded more than 50 others at a campaign rally for the apparent front-runner, the Rev. Jean-Ber--trand Aristide, a leftist Roman Cath-" olic priest. ' Diallo said the U.N. observers had : no confirmed reports of irregular- ities at any of the 14,500 polling ,.' stations across the country, which ; were being prepared. The Electoral Please see Haiti, A2, ?" 'God . . . told her I am the one for her and she is the one for me' By Ken Guggenheim The Pittsburgh Press James Brehm and Jacqueline Beck say they love each other and want only to live together as a married coupl6. But for two months, she has been in jail, he has been in a personal care home, and they haven't been allowed to talk to each other. Over their objections, their marriage has been annulled. When Ms. Beck, 42, speaks of Brehm, 68, she continues to call him her husband. Police and court records, though, depict him as her victim. Ms. Beck is accused in the records of trying to exploit elderly people to benefit herself and an apparently non-existent home and shelter, of which she claims to be administrator. City police charged Ms. Beck last month with forging the will of an elderly woman and trying to change the woman's life insurance to benefit herself. Ms. Beck has denied the charges. Both the state attorney general's Bureau "They can't prove I've ever taken a dime off these people, but I've given of myself." Jacqueline Beck of Consumer Protection and the county District Attorney's office are investigating Ms. Beck's activities. Brehm, who has been deemed legally incompetent for 30 years, gave Ms. Beck power of attorney, signed a will leaving most of his estate - worth about $140,000 - to Ms. Beck's home and shelter and approved a $47,000 bill for services supposedly provided there. About a month after Ms. Beck and Brehm married in September 1989, the pair tried to buy a $49,890 BMW, a $103,000 condominium and $12,000 in furniture with his money, according to court records. The guardian of Brehm's estate blocked these purchases. A year later, Family Division Judge Max . Baer annulled the marriage on the grounds .i that Brehm had lacked the capacity to get married. ; Brehm said Ms. Beck wasn't taking ad-: vantage of him. He said they had a "perfect marriage." "We both have the Holy Ghost," he said. "God talks to her and told her I am the one for her and she is the one for me." Brehm and Ms. Beck lived together in Beltzhoover after the wedding, but since last Please see Couple, AW Index Sports Trite time Gene Collier sucks it up with his much-feared, seventh annual Trite Trophy for the most offensive and useless cliche of the year in sports. The winners (?) are . . . Page Dl. Lifestyle Family ties Eric used to hurt himself. Hard work by his adoptive family has helped him find peace. Juanita Lewis, 61, has raised 45 children. Both are success stories. Page Jl. Magazine Space man A long string of problems has created hard times for the nation's space program. That hasn't daunted Jay Apt, 41, Pittsburgh's only current astronaut. Magazine. Arts & Entertainment Fl-8 Ask The Press 13 Books Bridge F4 Crossword Magazine 30 Dear Abby J3 Death notices B6 Editorials B2 Finance B7-16 Food .' Gl-10 Horoscope CIS Letters to editor B3 Lifestyle J 1-8 Lottery numbers A23 Movies F2.F3 Obituaries B6 Outdoors D12 Press phones A4 Real estate E5-12 Sports Dl-lfi Travel El-4 Want Ads CI -24 Today, partly cloudy and mildPage A2 Taunts of neighborhood youths pursue Tarentum man to grave By Kris B. Mamula The Pittsburgh Press The sight of William Duff, a 37-year-old man riding a bicycle, its three wire baskets filled with old pop cans and bottles, was apparently laughable to some teenagers in Tarentum. Larry Duff remembered three youths jeering his brother as he rode past on his bike one day carrying the recyclables. "At least we're not afraid to make a living," Larry recalled yelling at them. Larry Duff, 36, said the harassment didn't stop there. When he and William refused to buy beer for teens, their cars and bikes were stolen or vandalized. ,4 Now he wonders whether that teen torment finally escalated into a final, fatal act that killed his brother in a fire Dec. 2. William died in an unheated rooming house where he lived in Tarentum, overcome by smoke caused by a fire that started on the front porch. County homicide detectives Friday charged two youths who lived a few blocks from William - David L. Ewing, 14, of Sixth Street, and Edward Weigand, 17, of Fifth Avenue, with criminal homicide in connection with William's death. In separate interviews with police, Ewing and Weigand admitted starting the fire, according to an affidavit submitted by detectives to support arrest warrants. Ewing told police candles were used to ignite old furniture on the front porch, the document states. Once the brick, 2 '2-story house was ablaze, according to the affidavit, Ewing and Weigand joined spectators who gathered to watch the brilliant flames in the night sky. There, the affidavit continues, Weigand turned to an unidentified onlooker and wanted to know, "What's going on?" What the complaint papers don't say is why the pair allegedly started the fire. Ewing and Weigand face preliminary hearings Thursday. Larry Duff, ' an auto salvage yard worker, said he planned to be there. What Duff wants to know is if the Please see Duff, A20 i '! 4 5

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