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Unsolved Cases: Catherine Corkery

The 22-year-old Dormont woman was killed in 1989 on her way home from a party in Mt. Lebanon—her mutilated body found in the backyard of a house on Voelkel Avenue near the light rail transit tracks.

Today, 23 years after her death, people in Dormont are still talking about what happened to Catherine Corkery. 

The 22-year-old left a party in Mt. Lebanon at the Academy Avenue home of Sam Amado on July 22, 1989 and headed home to the apartment she shared with a boyfriend, Tim Rooney, on Ordinance Avenue. But she never made it.

Somewhere along the light-rail transit tracks where the "T" runs, Corkery met her attacker. She was just 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighed just 100 pounds.

That person twisted a rope-like restraint around her throat and pulled her to the tracks, splitting her head open when it struck a rail, the Tribune-Review reported. In a 1997 story, the newspaper quoted Allegheny County Homicide Sgt. Nicholas Bruich, the lead case detective, as saying the man pulled her along with the restraint, using it as a human leash.

After he choked, beat, stabbed and sexually assaulted Catherine, her attacker set her on fire. The only accessory she was still wearing—clip-on earrings.

Police speculated the attacker opened the unlocked wooden gate to the rear of 2933 Voelkel Ave. and dropped her under a fruit tree at the end of a concrete walkway, which was about 40 feet from the red-brick house. She couldn't be seen from the tracks because of a hedge, according to a report in the Tribune-Review.

Bruich told the newspaper Corkery was dead by the time her attacker started a gasoline fire, placed her in the flames and fled. He took her blue jeans, pink top, sneakers and other evidence. The flames that consumed her naked upper body were so intense, they scorched the tree's limbs.

A man taking out his trash about 7 a.m. July 22 found her body under the tree in his yard—in sight of the "T's" Potomac Station. The coroner ruled Corkery died of strangulation and head injuries, with slashes to her abdomen a contributing factor. Police believed some of the slashes near her breasts and groin were of a sexual nature.

Investigators said her blood alcohol level was .22.

The 22-year-old bookkeeper, a graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School, had just moved out of her mother's home and in with her boyfriend in the Dormont apartment they shared. She was planning to take community college night classes and become a social worker, like her mother.

Corkery had worked the day shift at Penn Parking Systems in downtown Pittsburgh that Friday. She had met two friends at a Mt. Lebanon bar after work. According to police reports, she and the friends walked a few blocks from the bar to the party, where about 40 people had gathered.

Corkery's boyfriend, Tim Rooney, had also attended the party with her but left early because he had a painting job early the next morning. He had hoped to someday ask Corkery to marry him.

She had told several people she was planning to walk home, but at one point relented and said she would get a ride. But police found no one who knew for sure whether or not she started to walk home alone.

When Rooney didn't find her at home when he awakened about 4 a.m., he assumed she had stayed with friends. When he came home at noon, she wasn't there and he began calling people that afternoon in an attempt to locate her.

His stomach dropped when he saw the story about the murder near his apartment on the evening news, and he called police to say it might be her.

Detectives cleared Rooney and everyone they could find from the party as suspects, Bruich told reporters at the time.

Intially, police thought there might be a connection between Corkery's death and that of Christine Marie Weber, 25, of Beaver County, whose body had been found in the state gamelands in Washington County. She had been stabbed 11 times and sexually assaulted.

Detectives searched under porches in Dormont and in the trash for clues. They interviewed some 200 people. Yet the case remains unsolved to this day.

It is a case that still bothers police. In fact, when the former Dormont police chief, Russ McKibben, retired in 2009, he told the Post-Gazette that his biggest regret was the department's inability to make an arrest in the homicide case.

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T&B T September 30, 2012 at 12:52 PM
I remember this well from 23 years ago. Even in Dormont where people would say "nothing like this happens here." Well it does and it pays to be alert to the fact you never know who is lurking around in your usually peaceful neighborhood. This is why I am always surprised when I hear some burglar has entered an unlocked apartment or house in our area. Locking your doors and windows especially at night is something that should be 2nd nature.
MSgt. John DeLallo September 30, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I believe it was shortly after this incident that Officer Bill Tomosky (spelling? Sorry Bill), Tom Sheehan and others began a self defense course for women. It was well attended, and well taught. "It can't happen here." has gotten a lot of women beaten, raped, and worse. Bravo Zulu to the Dormont PD, who, working with practically zero evidence, at least identified Ms. Corkery. To a man, I'm certain that the men on the force at that time feel frustrated by this awful murder.
Matt skoncey September 30, 2012 at 05:24 PM
I was 12 years old and lived right across the street from where this happened. I remember it like it was yesterday. I really wish they found out who did this cause it's ashame what happened to her and something I'll never forget!
Joyce October 01, 2012 at 03:34 PM
This is truly a haunting case. As are they all. There has been talk of someone who was arrested I believe in Ohio being the perpetrator, but I still wonder.
Gary October 01, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I was thinking about this case after I read it yesterday, I wonder if the police had ever checked the surveillance tapes from the COGO's back then. I'm pretty sure it was there, and that had to be where they got the gasoline. I also don't believe that this was perpetrated by someone from out of town. I mean she wasn't found along a highway. And I feel that whoever did this bragged about it. I only wish that someone would come forward with information. I know this happened 23 years ago... But like a lot of you, I haven't forgot about it. And the statute of limitations doesn't apply to murder.
T&B T October 01, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Criminals and murderers are scumbag "opportunists" and sometimes they deliberately go to a quiet community like our boro because they figure the people here let their guards down, many leave their doors unlocked and generally feel safe when they walk about at night. But criminals are opportunists and they look to victimize someone that will not be able to offer resistance. The news reports say this young woman was tiny and add to that she was at a .22 BAC so any opportunist rapist murderer would have immediately chosen her if she was attempting to walk home alone. This has renewed my prayers that they catch this miscreant and that he is punished & hopefully it will be capital punishment.
MerryMaryBrk October 02, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I have thought of this case MANY times over the years, as it was so horrifically brutal, and at the time I was a regular T-rider....the thought of having gone past there and that poor young woman just hidden out of sight.....We all see too many movies and read too many books; but it seems like someone that vicious would be caught by now, so maybe it was not a local person. At that time, I too said "Dormont??!!", never expected it. Today's world seems to have no havens left.
T&B T October 02, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Looks like this dirtbag named Glen Rogers may be the culprit, but since he burns his victims he pretty much obliterates all physical evidence in that manner. http://books.google.com/books?id=c4pUohXVD9oC&lpg=PA42&ots=RlKZE_3M0r&dq=corkery%20glen%20rogers&pg=PA37#v=onepage&q=corkery%20glen%20rogers&f=false
Hope April 14, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Me and my boyfriend just moved to Dormont and apparently where she was murdered on the t tracks is my back yard... I mean this in all respect so please no one think I am making a joke out of this but we are experiencing some really unusual things that we cannot explain, so I did some research and this story almost explains exaclty what we are experiencing if that makes sense... We are very new to the area for I am from Irwin and barely know anything.. I am 21 and me and my boyfriend just moved in together and things seem to be happening a lot more to me then him but he as well is experiencing things.. If any one is interested in helping me find out some information I would extremely appreciate it.. For we might have to move.. Thank you.
T&B T April 15, 2013 at 02:12 AM
What type of unusual things are occurring?

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