Peeking into the Past: Evidence showed murderer was known to victim

Peeking into - the Past - Judy Minsavage
Do you recognize anyone? This photo provided by Lukasik Studios of a combined church choir appeared in the April 30, 1972 issue of the Sunday Dispatch. The group sang for a special Ecumenical Service at St. John’s Evangelist Church. -


In 1960, what borough of Greater Pittston would adopt the slogan “A three mile town with a four mile welcome?”

1948 – 70 YEARS AGO

The very first all-sports banquet of Dupont High School was held at the Dupont Community House. Awards and letters were presented by Guy S. Costello and Helen Lukasik. Honored were lettermen Louis Adams, Jim Barbette, Mike Pearage, Mike Lis, Steve Kmetz, Patsy Roots, Ralph Cavalari, Paul Phillips, Sam Nardone, Edward Zielinski, Albert Strellish, Dominick Bau, Frank Halat, Alfred Romanko, John Chmiel, Paul Trojancki, Ed Massakowski, Richard Larnard, Bernard Zielieski, Mike Andusko, Norbert Novabilski, Nicholas Patte, Pete Pasquariello, Joe Kushinski, Joseph Lello, Frank Snopek and cheerleaders Margaret Cronick, Beatrice Marsh and Betty Cebula.

1950 – 68 YEARS AGO

Ten days after the April 20 murder of Mrs. Margaret Mahon in her Prospect Street Home, authorities were sure the victim knew her assailant as the seldom-used front door of the residence had been left unlocked, signaling how the murderer easily gained access and left the scene. There was no evidence of forced entry. After a series of mistakes in the initial investigation, the police found themselves with nothing to go on to find the perpetrator. Upon discovery of the body by a relative, and thinking the situation looked like a falling accident, the relative summoned an attorney and a doctor who then called the coroner. After the body was removed, Mahon’s handyman quickly cleaned the crime scene of blood and forensic evidence. The police were called in five hours later after the coroner discovered the manner of death was strangulation and not from a fall as was previously thought. Police said no punitive action would be taken against those who failed to call the police and remarked, “We can just mark it up as a stupid mistake.”

1952 – 66 YEARS AGO

Thirteen-year-old Tony “Studd” Strupcewski, of Duryea, appeared at the Hotel Statler in Washington, D.C. with the Ken Murray Variety Show. Strupcewski played the trombone as a member of the Scranton Musical Minors. Ken Murray was a child vaudevillian, who went on to host a comedy/variety television show for three seasons. Murray has a star on the Hollywood walk of Fame on Vine Street. Years later, performing as Tony Studd, Strupcewski played trombone with the Gil Evans Orchestra. He also recorded with many top name musicians such as Quincy Jones and Stan Getz.

1957 – 61 YEARS AGO

The Borough of West Pittston was planning its centennial celebration. Part of the plans included the publication of a booklet entitled “Centennial Chronicles. Victor B. Luchsinger, newspaperman and borough historian, began assembling facts with the help of heads of borough organizations and West Pittston High School students. The booklet detailed borough historical data, as well as facts about how West Pittston was named, the meaning of the Susquehanna River; floods that occurred such as the famous “Pumpkin Flood,” names of all burgesses, postmasters and elected officials in Luzerne County and the state legislature. Also included in the booklet was a listing of the borough’s mine disasters, as well as the Wyoming and Fort Jenkins Massacres. The West Pittston Historical Society was formed in 2001.

1960 – 58 YEARS AGO

Pittston High School News Reporter Elizabeth Acquilina wrote in an article, “We seniors, finding it difficult to realize that this is our last term at Pittston High, welcomed a dance as a get-together with our fellow students. We know for a certainty that every person had a wonderful evening, for one thought was universal in the minds of our seniors: Though other nights and other days may find us gone our separate ways, we will have these moments to remember.”

The annual senior class play, entitled “Susie and the F.B.I.” was in rehearsal. Faculty member Clara Kusnierz directed the eight-member cast consisting of Barbara Scaz, Gloria Manoski, Jean Goula, Frances Kociolek, Alberta Warunek, Frank Wiancek, Janice Jacobs and Chester Kuchinski.

St. John’s High School senior JoAnn McNally received a certificate of honorable mention from King’s College for her entry in the Dr. Whitman Essay Contest. McNally chose the anthracite industry as a topic for her 1500-word essay.

During its Summer Dress Carnival, J.C. Penney’s advertised summer fashion dresses for $5.95 to $12.95. According to the US Inflation Calculator, those prices would equate to anywhere from $50.16 to 109.18 today.

1967 – 51 YEARS AGO

Several members of the ILGWU received certificates for completing a six-week course in How to Enforce the Union Agreement conducted by William Matthews, educational director for the union. Sam Bianco, headquarters manager, presented the certificates at a meeting attended by Mildred Walsh, Helen Wozniak, Lena Gregori, Betty LaNunziata, Adelaide Ochreiter, Ann Gillis, Minnie Caputo, Theresa Cardascia, Helen DePhillip, Pearl Sakalouskas, Rose Usavage. Ann Perry, Helen Burke, Stella Grabowski, Sally Pakuta, Louise Mullen, Sophie Klink, Elizabeth Fereck, Mary Hrab, Catherine McGuire, Amelia Spigarelli, Gretta Ash, Rachel Chismar. Lillian Gusinsky, Ann Sardy, Belle Scott, Leon Saslow, John Ventura, William Gable, Marian Gregalis, Viola Nardone, Shirley DiBiasi and Clem Lyons.

1972 – 46 YEARS AGO

Captain Frank P. Reap, one of Pittston’s “most distinguished citizens” was the first Pittston native to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy in the class of 1872. Reap was honored at a centennial commemorative program and final roll call of that class at West Point. The mayor and city council issued a proclamation that the day be set aside in honor of Reap.

In an effort to promote local young women in sports, and answering a complaint that “Female athletes never seem to get any ink,” the Sunday Dispatch recognized Mary Ellen Boone, of West Pittston, a junior at Wyoming Seminary as the captain of the Sem girls’ swim team. The squad was about to complete its third straight successful season. The Wyoming Area Catholic girls basketball team had its seventh straight victory. High scorers were Sue Brown and Karen Mikita.

Schott Optical Glass Inc. advertised for girls and women to apply for inspector and packer positions at the average per hour rate of $2.64. After six weeks, pay would be boosted to $2.86 per hour. Benefits included Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance, life insurance, sick pay, paid personal absences, paid holidays and vacation. Today, the rates would equal $15.76 and $17.07.

1977 – 41 YEARS AGO

After Dupont celebrated its bicentennial in 1976, the planning committee decided to stay active and continue its beautification efforts in the borough. In doing so, the committee hoped to keep alive the spirit of the bicentennial year. Tony Smithonic, Bob Jones, John Boyer, Stanley “Poncho” Piechota, Tom Titton, Mayor Michael Kaminski, Frank Kutza, Henry Gimzek and Bernie Krappa used a beautiful April day to plant the cherry trees at Memorial Playground. Future projects were being planned.

1987 – 31 YEARS AGO

Anthony Botyrius, of Wyoming, received the Circle of Excellence Award from Northern Telecom Limited the first supplier of digital telecommunication systems and information management systems. Tony ranked in the top 25 percent in sales, earning him a trip to Madrid, Spain. According to its website, Northern Telecom, formerly known as Northern Electric and today as Nortel, introduced the world’s first X.25 data switch in 1976, the first standard-based commercial application of packet switching, the technology that is the foundation of today’s Internet.


In 1960, The Duryea Lions Club announced that Paul Burke, a Duryea High School senior, was the winner of its slogan contest for his entry “Duryea, a three mile town with a four mile welcome.” Burke received a cash prize.

This day in history

1813 — Rubber is patented.

1852 — The first edition of Peter Roget’s Thesaurus is published.

1945 — As World War II draws to a close, Adolf Hitler marries longtime partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker and designates Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor. Both Hitler and Braun will commit suicide the following day.

1946 — Former Japanese leaders are indicted in Tokyo as war criminals.

1975 — The U.S. embassy in Vietnam is evacuated as North Vietnamese forces fight their way into Saigon.

1992 — Four Los Angeles police offices are acquitted of charges stemming from the beating of Rodney King. Rioting ensues.

Born today

1863 — William Randolph Hearst, American newspaper publisher.

1877 — Tad Dorgan, cartoonist and columnist.

1879 — Sir Thomas Beecham, founder of the London Philharmonic.

1899 — Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, renowned jazz composer and musician.

1901 — Hirohito, emperor of Japan during and after World War II

Do you recognize anyone? This photo provided by Lukasik Studios of a combined church choir appeared in the April 30, 1972 issue of the Sunday Dispatch. The group sang for a special Ecumenical Service at St. John’s Evangelist Church. you recognize anyone? This photo provided by Lukasik Studios of a combined church choir appeared in the April 30, 1972 issue of the Sunday Dispatch. The group sang for a special Ecumenical Service at St. John’s Evangelist Church.

Peeking into

the Past

Judy Minsavage

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at