Saturday, December 30, 2006

Jerry Cushey Jr.: Article in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently featured a lengthly article on Jerry Lee Cushey Jr. Apparently last weekend was his birthday. The article includes a photo, law enforcement contact information, and a detailed history of the case. Bravo, Post-Gazette!
After five years, family continues to seek closure
Sunday, December 24, 2006
By Janice Crompton, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Jerry Lee Cushey
You can help
If you have information about the disappearance of Jerry Cushey, please
contact investigator Jan Chico at 724-366-3188 or state police in Belle Vernon
at 724-929-6262.
This weekend, Jerry Cushey Jr. would have celebrated his
35th birthday.
He is spoken of in the past tense because his family believes
Jerry is dead.
They have worked tirelessly for closure, for the Christian
burial they believe Jerry deserves, but loved ones say they have been foiled and
frustrated at every turn by a police investigation they say was mishandled from
the start.
"I have cried so many tears so many nights," said Sonya
Helmantoler of Monongahela, Jerry's older sister by 15 months. "I don't know why
they won't do anything with this case. I will not go away. I want to know what
Jerry disappeared five years ago on the day he was moving into a
new apartment with an old acquaintance, Christopher Myers. The pair made plans
to move into an apartment above a tattoo business that Mr. Myers owned, Totally
Tattoos on Second Street in Monongahela.
Jerry didn't go to work on Oct. 12,
2001, because he planned to do some work on the apartment with Mr. Myers,
according to family members. He picked up his paycheck from the local
construction company he worked for and cashed it at a local beer distributor
after making plans with some co-workers to meet at a local social club later
that night.
Jerry never made the rendezvous with his co-workers, and was
last seen by a friend outside the tattoo shop early in the evening.
that time, Mr. Myers has been arrested for impersonating Jerry in phone calls to
his mother and police, a possible eyewitness has come forward and new evidence
has been unearthed by a private investigator, but no arrests have been made in
Jerry's disappearance to the dismay of his family.
In the days after Jerry
vanished, a Jeep Wrangler that Jerry often borrowed from his father was returned
to the home of the elder Mr. Cushey, who saw a man who was not his son park the
vehicle in his yard.
When family members asked Mr. Myers where Jerry was,
they said he told them Jerry stole his van and $1,500. He reported the van
missing on Oct. 16, 2001, but the vehicle had already been found the day before
by West Virginia police over an embankment near Cheat Lake. A stick was lodged
against the accelerator and a tree kept the van from plunging into a stream.
During the next several weeks, Jerry's mother, Ilona Boyd, along with the
Pennsylvania State Police and Union Township police, received several phone
calls from a person claiming to be Jerry and giving several excuses as to why he
left town, including that he was going to Arizona with a girlfriend and that he
owed someone $10,000 and was living in West Virginia. The voice was not Jerry's,
Mrs. Boyd said.
Mr. Myers made the phone calls, state police later
determined. Police charged him in October 2004 with three counts of tampering
with evidence for impersonating Jerry and one count of obstructing the
administration of law or other governmental functions for secretly returning
Jerry Cushey Sr.'s Jeep the day after Jerry Jr.'s disappearance, then denying
When confronted by police about returning the Jeep, Mr. Myers said: "OK.
In the beginning I denied it because I was scared. I just didn't want to get
involved," according to a criminal complaint filed by police.
In the
complaint, Mr. Myers also commented about being caught placing the crank phone
calls: "Okay. You were on me hard," said Mr. Myers, who has a juvenile criminal
record for burglary. "I knew that because of my prior past. I was trying to get
you guys off of me, not to look at me. I know I look bad."
When Mr. Myers
was arraigned on the criminal charges, he was jailed on a $75,000 straight cash
bond, but a month later, the bond was dropped by Washington County Common Pleas
Court Judge Katherine Emery. Mr. Myers was released on his own recognizance with
the condition that he report weekly to state police.
It's unclear if Mr.
Myers has kept up his part of the bargain, but court records show numerous trial
continuances requested by his lawyer.
Beginning in October 2005, Mr. Myers'
lawyer, Dianne Zerega, has requested and been granted five delays, citing
ongoing cooperation with the county district attorney's office.
In court
papers filed Oct. 6, 2005, Ms. Zerega asked the court for a continuance,
stating: "The defendant came to an agreement with the district attorney's office
which has not been completed."
A month later, on Nov. 2, 2005, Ms. Zerega
requested and was granted a continuance for the same reason, and on May 22,
2006, court filings by Ms. Zerega state: "The defendant has not completed his
activity for the commonwealth."
On Sept. 6, 2006 and Nov. 21, 2006, Ms.
Zerega had appealed to county Common Pleas Court Judge John DiSalle for more
continuances, stating that Mr. Myers has entered plea agreement negotiations
with the district attorney's office.
None of the records include details of
Mr. Myers' cooperation.
His next hearing before Judge DiSalle is scheduled
for Feb. 26, 2007.
Mr. Myers and District Attorney John C. Pettit could not
be reached for comment, and Ms. Zerega declined comment.
Jerry's family
can't understand why Mr. Myers hasn't been charged in Jerry's disappearance, or
why more information about other possible suspects hasn't been forthcoming since
his arrest more than two years ago.
State police Cpl. Brian Barnhart said he
couldn't disclose Mr. Myers' level of cooperation, but said he has sympathy for
the Cushey family.
"I feel terrible for them," he said. "It's very
Cpl. Barnhart said the investigation still is active and
interviews are ongoing.
Jerry's family has gone to incredible lengths to
find the answers that still elude them, including consulting five psychics and
undertaking an investigation of their own.
The family raised $3,500 during a
fund-raiser to hire a private investigator, but said they "never received a
shred of paper" from the Pittsburgh agency. This summer, they consulted private
investigator Jan Chico of Newell, Fayette County, who has taken on the case at
no charge.
Ms. Helmantoler said Ms. Chico has been indispensable to the
case, gathering new evidence and information that hopefully will yield results.
The family continues to hang missing posters on utility poles in
Monongahela, Charleroi, and outside of another tattoo business Mr. Myers owns in
"They will always see my brother's face," Ms. Helmantoler
The family pushed police to search Cheat Lake, along with the
Monongahela River, which was scoured last summer, but the family also has formed
and organized search parties that provided police with possible evidence, such
as an Adidas ball cap they believe Jerry was wearing.
Ms. Helmantoler took a
four-week leave of absence from work and, along with several members of her
family, spent every day searching the area near Cheat Lake where Mr. Myers' van
was found. They came up with several items, including rubber gloves and a towel
covered with an unknown substance. Ms. Helmantoler said they turned the items
over to police but never heard anything more about them.
Most recently, Ms.
Helmantoler sent a mass mailing to local and state politicians and government
officials requesting help in the case. Several sent back responses, she said,
and indicated they would try to assist.
She also sent a complaint to the
state Judicial Review Board over the continued delays in Mr. Myers' case. The
agency said it would investigate.
Ms. Helmantoler said it took several weeks
for her brother's apartment to be searched once he was reported missing, and her
family continues to be frustrated over the weeks and months it takes for police
to follow up on leads that they believe are important.
Ms. Helmantoler said
it's not fair that her brother's killer continues to roam free while her family
got together yesterday to celebrate Jerry's birthday without him yet again.
"I'm at my wits end now," she said. "We just have that empty seat. It's not
Ms. Helmantoler is convinced her brother is dead because she felt his
spirit visit her once while she was standing in her kitchen. Since then, he
signals her and other family members by dropping dimes in shoes, pockets and
other unexpected locations, she said.
"He told me I would bring him home
when it was time," she said. "And, that's when I knew he was gone. We still had
hope, but I knew then."
A family member recently installed a memorial stone
for Jerry in the Venetia Cemetery between the graves of his uncle and cousin so
the family would have a place to visit until his remains are located.
believe the time is coming close," she said. "I have promised my family members
that I would bring him home."
In the meantime, Ms. Helmantoler tries to keep
a positive outlook by sponsoring monthly teen dances at the Finleyville
Community Center in honor of her brother, who she said "always wanted to do
something like that."
"This is something he would have loved to have done,"
she said.
(Janice Crompton can be reached at or
724-223-0156. )
Article at
I can't find a poster of him, though. His Charley Project profile ( might work, although it takes two sheets of paper.

1 comment:

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