Human remains found in Somerset County woods, police say

Vehicles line the roadway on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, near the Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, scene where human remains were found. Authorities said that hunters found the remains in the woods a day earlier.

Human remains were found Friday afternoon in the woods of Somerset County by some hunters who had gone out to check on their tree stands, authorities said Saturday.

Police vehicles lined both sides of a section of Ligonier Pike for most of the day Saturday as state troopers and Mercyhurst University forensic scientists spent hours mapping out the location of each piece of the remains, according to state police Sgt. Stephen Adamczyk.

“We’re trying to find anything we can find,” Adamczyk said.

The hunters discovered the remains along Ligonier Pike in Conemaugh Township near the Menoher Swim Club, Adamczyk said. They immediately reported their discovery to state police, who responded and secured the scene.

The area where the remains were found is not far from the spot where police located a vehicle in March linked to the suspicious disappearance of two area men.

Damian Michael Staniszewski, 19, of Duncansville, and James Edward Smith, 32, of Portage, were last seen around 2 p.m. on March 26 near Smith’s Prospect Street residence in Portage. 

They were reported missing by their respective families on March 28.

On the same day the men were reported missing, Conemaugh Township police located a vehicle known to be operated by Staniszewski along Route 985, also known as Somerset Pike, in Somerset County, near where the human remains were found Friday.

Staniszewski and Smith are still missing under what state police have deemed suspicious circumstances.

Landon D. Reighard, 33, a homeless man whose last known address is listed as the 900 block of Rockville Road, South Fork, was charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution in the case in May. At least two other people have been determined to be persons of interest in the investigation.

Authorities did not state whether the human remains found Friday are believed to be linked to the case of the missing men.

No other information was released Saturday; more information on the discovery will be released at a press conference at 11 a.m. Monday at the state police barracks in Somerset, Adamczyk said.

Mark Pesto is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @MarkPesto.

Recommended for you