Body found in North Bethlehem Twp. field is of missing man

July 9, 2014
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George Pochiba
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Washington County Coroner Tim Warco tells reporters Wednesday afternoon he believes a body found in a field in North Bethlehem Township was that of George Pochiba, above, an 90-year-old area resident missing for about a month. Warco confirmed Wednesday evening the body was that of Pochiba. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Neva Neizmik, daughter of George Pochiba, talks about her father after being notified a body was found in a field about a mile away from Pochiba’s home in North Bethlehem Township Wednesday. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
Numerous state police vehicles and an ambulance converged on a field at the intersection of Daniels Run and Brady roads in North Bethlehem Township following the discovery of a body Wednesday in the general area where George Pochiba was last seen. Order a Print

A shocking discovery Wednesday morning is providing one local family with overdue closure.

Washington County Coroner Tim Warco confirmed Wednesday that a body found in a field along Brady Road in North Bethlehem Township is that of George Pochiba.

Pochiba, 90, who had dementia, walked away from his home on 13 Crescent Road June 10 and never returned. Family, neighbors and strangers were desperately searching for him over the last four weeks.

About 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, property owner Nancy Brady was cutting and baling hay when she came upon a body. Warco said physical evidence found at the scene led investigators to believe the body was Pochiba’s. A forensic investigation confirmed his identity.

Warco said Pochiba died of natural causes, and no foul play was believed to have occurred.

While it’s not the outcome Pochiba’s family was hoping for, Pochiba’s daughter, Neva Neizmik, said they are thankful for the closure.

“A mile. Two miles at the most. In a field nearby,” she said. “What’s most upsetting is that thermal imagining was used. More than a dozen search dogs were used. More than a thousand people have physically searched that area. Helicopter. All of the above were utilized. Yet, he was right here, and we weren’t able to help him during the time he was in need.”

State police and volunteers searched the area surrounding his home on the evening of June 10 and continued throughout June 11, until the search was called off. State police said then they would not restart the search until information that might lead to Pochiba’s return came to light. But Neizmik said state and local police still provided support and resources.

A Facebook page, “George Pochiba Search,” was set up to help organize search times and locations. It later became a place where community members could leave encouraging words of support for the family.

People also provided donations toward a $3,000 reward for information leading to Pochiba’s safe return, and supporters gathered June 26 for a candlelight vigil at the Crescent Road home.

Neighbors and friends came and went Wednesday afternoon, offering condolences and support. While the family is grieving, Neizmik said they are “relieved.”

“We have somewhat of an explanation of what happened to him,” she said.

The farm where the body was found was less than a half mile from where Pochiba was last seen. Neizmik said she expected to find her father in a rural area.

“We really anticipated that he would gravitate toward a farm or field,” she said. “I felt that. I knew he wouldn’t gravitate to the city, buildings or highly populated areas.”

Neizmik is thankful for the outpouring of love and support.

“It’s been amazing throughout this last month,” she said. “There’s been a lot of searching and wondering. Our family, our community, our church family and many people we don’t know have helped in many ways. I appreciate everyone who has helped, prayed and stood with us.”

People are encouraged to leave their condolences on the Facebook page,

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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