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Four Die in Trailer Park Shootings; Youth Charged

February 2, 1987

MARS, Pa. (AP) _ A teen-ager who left a note that his family ″kept getting on my case″ was charged with four counts of criminal homicide in the shooting deaths of his parents, sister and a neighbor at a trailer park, police said.

Robert E. Swisher was arraigned Monday on four counts of homicide and one count of aggravated assault and attempt to commit homicide before District Justice Leon Gant. He was held without bond in Butler County jail.

The victims of Sunday night’s shootings were identified as Richard E. Swisher, 48; his wife, Elizabeth J. Swisher, 48; their daughter, Angela D. Swisher, 21, and a neighbor, Jean Yant, 25.

A fifth victim, neighbor Walter Richey, 73, was in serious condition after undergoing surgery in Pittsburgh’s North Hills Passavant Hospital.

Swisher, 16, was arrested after he walked about a mile to the house of another sister, Kim Palmer, who called police, said Nancy Auer, a spokeswoman for Cranberry Township police. Officers confiscated a .30-30-caliber rifle and a .410 shotgun.

A note addressed to Mrs. Palmer, written before the shootings began just after 9 p.m. Sunday, was found in the boy’s bedroom, Ms. Auer said. It read in part, ″I didn’t mean to do it, but they kept getting on my case.″

Neighbor Kim Goblick said he ran outside with a handgun when he heard the gunshots and saw Swisher pursuing his father down the front steps of the trailer.

″The guy (Richard Swisher) had his coat and hat on. He was making a break for it. But he didn’t make it,″ said Goblick.

When Mrs. Yant came to the door of her trailer after hearing the gunshots, she was shot once in the chest.

Richey was shot in the right leg through the wall of his porch after he asked the boy to put down his gun, Ms. Auer said.

The youth’s mother and sister were discovered on the floor in the living room, Ms. Auer said. Mrs. Swisher had been shot twice in the leg and shoulder and Angela Swisher had been hit in the arm and chest. The father had been shot once in the back.

The three Swishers and Mrs. Yant were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Goblick and other neighbors said Robert had showed no previous signs of violent behavior.

After his arrest, he asked police to recover some anti-seizure medication, phenobarbitol, from the family trailer. He said he needed the sedative to control his epilepsy, the Butler County coroner’s office said.

Larry Butterini, the principal at Seneca Valley High School, said the sophomore was ″like a normal teen-ager ... He’s had no problems here at all.″

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