The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on December 16, 1990 · Page 7
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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 7

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 16, 1990
Page 7
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Sunday, December 16, 1990 The Pittsburgh Press Kerstetter from Page Al Penny Weis, Kerstetter's daughter. She has spent the past three years trying to pin down the slippery details of the theft and her father's disappearance. Even the Kerstetter children have been unable to reach a consensus on how to deal with their father's disappearance. One daughter, Wendy, hired attorney Bryant in an attempt to have a judge declare Dale Kerstetter dead. Others in the family didn't join in. The facts would seem to be as follows. Kerstetter, who was facing some financial problems, left his mobile home at Tack's Corners, 10 miles from the Corning plant, the evening of Saturday, Sept. 12, 1987. He said goodbye to his teenage son, Al, who lived with him. The other kids were grown or with their mother in Texas. He reported for work at 10:30 p.m. as a plant guard. Demand for the long glass rods the plant produced for electrical resistors was low because of the recession that rippled throughout the rural sections of the state during the '80s. The furnace, lined with platinum because it could withstand the heat of glassmaking, was fired up only a few times a year. Kerstetter took the plant keys from Art Peterson, the guard he relieved, and settled in as the few remaining employees left the plant. Shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday morning, John Lindquist arrived for the next shift and found Kerstetter gone, his red Jeep pickup truck in the parking lot, his cigarettes and the plant keys resting on a table of the cafeteria next to an uneaten lunch still in the pail. A check of the clock records showed Kerstetter hadn't made his rounds of the plant since midnight. A search of the plant turned up nothing, and company officials called in police at 5 p.m. that Sunday. Volunteers searched the woods around the plant. Others walked along nearby Tuna Creek for signs of a body. Bloodhounds, first put in Kerstetter's truck to pick up his scent, followed a circuitous and un-enlightening trail around the plant. A search of the truck turned up an empty holster in which Kerstetter kept the .22 caliber pistol he used in his "skunk runs," but nothing, anywhere, gave a clue to where Dale Kerstetter had gone. "Dale wasn't the kind of guy that would just go off and desert his son," said Don Bucher, who moved here from Pittsburgh 32 years ago and runs the Downbeat Restaurant. Four days after Kerstetter vanished, Patrick Foley, the personnel manager for the plant, took a break from negotiations with the local union and reviewed tape from the plant's four security cameras seeking clues about Kerstetter's last shift. That was when he saw the last glimpse of Dale Kerstetter a fuzzy, poorly lighted image of a plant guard with an unexplained visitor. The tape switches every fQW seconds from one camera to another. What Foley saw, according to a chronology of the tape filed with state police, was a man walking into the guard's area less than 10 minutes after Kerstetter relieved Peterson. The masked man appears to be speaking to Kerstetter who, fully aware of the security cameras, even turns at one point to look straight into the camera trained on him. Both men then walk into another section of the plant and Kerstetter isn't seen again. What is seen is the masked person moving throughout the plant, finally settling in the area around the furnaces where he rummages about the furnace and is seen, at one point, with what looks like a rod of platinum. Finally, the intruder takes a hand truck, used to move pallets, into a side room and emerges dragging a bag. After viewing the tape, plant officials called police and then searched the furnace. They lifted out fire bricks that shielded the platinum and found, at points, places where the precious metal had been cut through with a hack saw. State police called in the FBI. On Feb. 26, two weeks after he disappeared, state police issued a flier that said Dale Kerstetter was wanted for questioning. But what, really, did the tape show? In a way, it became a lawyer's version of the Rorschach test, with each side seeing what it wanted. "They appeared to be in conversation," argued Gallup, the company's attorney. "Yeah, it may have been 'hey, where's the platinum.' 'It's in the back room, don't shoot me,' " countered Bryant. The intruder stands behind Kerstetter at one point. "You don't see his hand at one point, which is behind my father's back," said Penny Weis, suggesting a weapon might have been in that unseen hand. The FBI's lab was unable to enhance the tape to make the image, Austrian will join Soviets in space Press news services VIENNA - Austria will put its first man in space next October on a Soviet flight to the space station Mir, officials announced. The spaceman will be either Clemens Lothaller, a 27-year-old-doctor, or Franz Viehboeck, a 30-year-old electronics specialist. JW i : Mmmmmmmm Dale Kerstetter Is he dead or alive? much less its meaning, any less blurry. By the middle of the year, the loan company had repossessed Kerstetter's mobile home, young Al had moved to'Texas with his mother, and the vanished man's friends were faced with the strange prospect of a hunting season in which their friend was the quarry. "Unsolved Mysteries," the TV crime show, came to town and filmed an installment. A friend in Florida was questioned by police and the FBI. Platinum dealers were telephoned and visited. Twice, people reported seeing someone who might have been Kerstetter once on West Washington Street in the middle of Bradford; another time, stretched out and apparently reading, near a railroad. Neither sighting checked out. From Florida, police reported finding a 5-foot-4 body, partly eaten by alligators. When it didn't check out, Kerstetter remained on the missing list, wanted for questioning. "Nothing added up for Dale to do it," said David Remington, a former worker at the plant and drinking buddy of Kerstetter's. Dale Perry, an official at the plant, rechristened Bradford Electronics after Corning sold it two years ago, also wonders. "It doesn't make any sense to give up a lifelong job, a career, and all those years of service," Perry said. No one knows where Kerstetter or an accomplice could unload such an odd metal so hard to melt into a salable ingot that only a dozen places in the country have furnaces capable of doing it. "You'd have a lot better chance selling Rolexes," said Bryant. But if he did it, many of Dale's friends would be content to let him alone, living perhaps in the badlands of the West where he sometimes said he'd like to retire. "Everybody says that if he did it and he isn't dead, that they hope he gets away with it," said Dot Cum-mings, owner of the Tack's Corner Tavern. "If it did happen, then hopefully he'll make it." Questioned by an FBI agent from Erie, Remington said as much. "He said 'if Dale ever got a hold of you, would you call me and tell me what he talked about?' I said no. "Put yourself in that position. What would you do?" If you are 60 years or older and have lost a spouse within the past six months, you may be eligible to participate in a special research program of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The purpose of the program is to study sleep changes in bereaved individuals. The program offers them an opportunity to contribute to research that will offer hope for the bereaved, as well as receive a free medical evaluation and a substantial honorarium. For more information, please call 624.-1000. 1 rnniarcShirif DiffcVnirvik School of Medicine The Original Christmas SKJ0W GOING ON NOW! thru December 16th at the ExpoMart Get 12.00 Off Admission Price with Coupons from Thrift Drug & Shop 'N' Save Thursday Noon to 9:00 PM General Admission 15.00 Fridav 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Children 6-12 1.00 Saturday 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Children Under S FREE Sunday 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM PHONE 856-8128 T -rtS SI THRIFT DRUG Jfr ". Over 130 c8l Over 130 Selling Booths Visit Santa Claus everyday during selected hours. Your ticket is your entry (or t grind prize drawing tnd helps proride gifts for Children's Hospital iy AY In mi 50 OFF. MEN'S SUITS, SPORTCOATS, DRESS SLACKS & OUTERWEAR. MEN'S & WOMEN'S SWEATERS. WOMEN'S DRESSES & CAREER SEPARATES. $19.95 Men' $weater, regularly $40. :J Jy $19.95 Women'$ patterned brocade sweater, regularly $40. Men's casual slacks, dress shirts, ties, sport shirts, topcoats and accessories, all at 20-50 off. And women's blazers, suits, blouses, skirts and pants. Here are a few examples of the kind of savings we're talking about. Men's sportcoats are reduced from $140 and $145 to $69. And our men's dress shirts are reduced from $20 and $22 to $11. Men's and women's sweaters, regularly $40, are now $19.95. Women's boiled wool jackets are reduced from $75 to $37.50. So come In today. The entire store is yours. RICHMAN BROTHERS Were the perfect fit. Free alterations in time for the holidays. Washington Mall Westmoreland Mall Towne Mall, New Castle South Hills Village 345 Fifth Ave,, Downtown Century III Monroeville Mall (visit our new location, lower level, next to Kaufman's) Beaver Valley Mall Ross Park Mall All Stores Open Sundays Major Credit Cards Accepted. VISIT OUR NEW RICHMAN WOMAN DEPARTMENT AT WASHINGTON MALL aADIESWEAR NOT AVAILABLE ATI WESTMORELAND I A7

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