Family, police still searching for answers a year later

June 15, 2014
Vince Kelley

A year ago on Father’s Day, Vince Kelley went to the Giant Eagle at Strabane Square in South Strabane Township to pick up some groceries.

He would never come home. The 46-year-old was shot to death in an ill-fated attempt to stop a man who had just robbed the Citizens Bank branch inside the grocery store.

As township police continue their investigation into finding the robber who shot and killed Kelley, his family has planned a vigil at 6 p.m. tonight at the memorial set up adjacent to the Giant Eagle parking lot, near where he lost his life.

His sister-in-law, Suzanne Kelley, said the vigil on the first anniversary of his murder will not only give the family a chance to share memories of the man they called “Mystro” but also hopefully regenerate interest in the case.

“I am surprised that no one has come forward,” Suzanne Kelley said. “The store was so busy that day.”

Kelley and a friend had gone to the store June 16, 2013. The robber entered the store and went to the bank about 2:20 p.m. Wielding a handgun, the robber jumped over the teller counter and robbed the bank.

Hearing a scream, Kelley and his friend saw the robber jump back over the counter. The pair, along with others, gave chase. The robber turned and pointed a gun at them. Undeterred, Kelley continued to go after the robber and got into the back seat of the getaway car, a small to mid-size, white, four-door sedan.

As Kelley reached for a knife that he carried, the robber shot him several times. As the robber sped off, Kelley fell out of the vehicle. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Friends and family were not surprised that Kelley sprang into action and took on a Good Samaritan role, saying he would give anyone in need the shirt off his back to help.

Witnesses reported seeing a dye pack planted in the money activate as the robber drove away from the scene. The robber has been described as being in his 20s or 30s, 5 feet, 9 inches to 6-feet tall with a thin to medium build. His race has not been determined. He wore a full-face ski mask and hat during the robbery and also had an umbrella that he further used to conceal his identity.

A few days after the robbery, Patrick McGlennon, a supervisory special agent with the FBI’s Charleroi office, said that the robber was likely familiar with the area and had been in the store before, whether it was minutes or days prior. The robber parked in an area along Berry Road, near the Get Go gas station and pharmacy, not where most grocery customers would park.

McGlennon also said that people who know the robber may have noticed changes in his mood.

Township police Chief Don Zofchak said detectives Ken Torboli Jr. and Michael Schidlmeier continue to work diligently on the investigation.

“Although information continues to filter in, it is good put this out there again,” Zofchak said. “It is a good opportunity to remind people the case is still open.”

“Anyone with information they think might be helpful needs to call,” he added.

Torboli said the investigation is active and police continue to get leads.

“In fact we got three this week,” he added. “We continue to worth with District Attorney Gene Vittone and his staff as well as the FBI.”

Suzanne Kelley said the last year has been hard, particularly since her brother-in-law’s murder remains unsolved. And the $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer remains unclaimed.

And Kelley’s grandson, Romeo Porter, will not have the chance to know his grandfather except through the stories of family members.

“She has good days and bad,” Suzanne Kelley said of Kelley’s daughter, Sierra “Bean” Kelley, the mother of his grandson. “She wants her dad’s killer to be found.”

Kelley and her family have become involved in the Stop the Violence awareness program. The group held a picnic attended by more than 640 people to bring awareness to those who have lost loved ones through violence. T-shirts touting Team Mystro and urging an end to violence have been sold to raise money for victims of violent crimes.

“We will not stop until we find out who did this,” Kelley vowed.

Kelley urged the community to attend the vigil. Anyone with information on the robbery and murder is asked to call township police at 724-225-8111 and leave a message.

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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