Kelley family to gather for memorial

December 15, 2013
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Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
This memorial to Vinny Kelley was erected along the parking lot of Giant Eagle, near the spot where Kelley was shot to death by a bank robber. Order a Print
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Vinny Kelley
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Vince Kelley

For Suzanne Kelley and other family and friends of Vince “Mystro” Kelley, the hardest thing in the last six months has been knowing that his killer is still out there.

At 6 p.m. today, family and friends will gather to remember Kelley at a memorial that has been set up for him off the parking lot of Giant Eagle in Strabane Square, South Strabane Township, not far from where he was gunned down Father’s Day.

Kelley was shot and killed June 16 after jumping into the back seat of a car as he tried to stop a robber who had just held up the Citizens Bank inside the grocery store.

Kelley and a friend were inside the store when they heard a woman scream and saw the robber jump back over the counter, heading for the door closest to the store’s pharmacy. Kelley and several others followed the robber outside. Kelley continued to run after the culprit, even after the robber turned and pointed a gun at him. After jumping in the back seat of the robber’s car, Kelley was reportedly reaching for his knife when he was shot. Kelley fell out of the open door as the robber fled around the back of the store.

The murder suspect is in his 20s or 30s, 5 feet, 9 inches to 6 feet tall, with a thin to medium build. Police said he fled in a small to mid-size white, four-door sedan.

Township police Chief Donald Zofchak said Detectives Ken Torboli and Michael Schidlmeier continue to work with the FBI and the office of Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone on the investigation.

“While I can’t discuss the ins and outs of the case, I want the public to know the incident has not been forgotten,” the chief said. “We are still looking for public input.

“The detectives continue to work hard on this case,” he added. “This case is a priority and always will be. For anyone thinking nothing is being done, (it) couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Torboli said they continue to get tips on the case.

“It is still a very active investigation,” the detective said.

“I don’t understand. It was Father’s Day, somebody had to see something. There are cameras as soon as you go into the store,” Suzanne Kelley said. “It makes no sense. Vinnie was such a good guy.”

His family members were not surprised by Kelley’s actions that Sunday afternoon, saying he would go out of his way to help anyone.

Kelley’s daughter, Sierra “Bean” Kelley, still lives in the Washington area. Her aunt said her niece works and cares for her 1-year-old son, Romeo Porter. Suzanne Kelley said her brother-in-law’s death has taken a toll on the family. They go to the memorial on the 16th of every month, where they talk about him and share stories.

Suzanne Kelley said others murder victims also will be remembered today. Family members of slain Washington & Jefferson College football player Tim McNerney are expected to attend tonight’s memorial, as are members of the family of Frank Tulock, formerly of Canton Township. Tulock, 36, was shot multiple times in the back outside his home in Weirton, W.Va., after responding to a woman’s cries for help during a domestic dispute in his neighborhood. He had just moved to Weirton.

Suzanne Kelley said her brother-in-law and Tulock were linked not only by how they died, but by the date of their births. Kelley was born April 7, 1967, while Tulock was born on the same day 10 years later.

“We’ve gotten to know some of these families at the Victims Memorial Garden service,” Suzanne Kelley said. “It has helped being able to share stories about our loved ones. They’ve all been very good to us.”

There is still a $50,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Vince Kelley’s killer.

“I don’t know who did this,” Suzanne Kelley said. “But we are going to keep his memory alive. We will never forget about him.

“If you know something, call, even if it is anonymously,” she added. “I want this person brought to justice. This is killing our family. I don’t think we’ll have closure until his killer is caught.”

Zofchak urged anyone who has information, no matter how insignificant or trivial it may seem, to call the police department at 724-225-8111.

“I’d like to get the (suspect) off the streets before something else happens,” the chief said. “I worry about who might get hurt next.”

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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