Shamokin PA

No arrests yet in six-month murder probe

MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP — Monday marks the six-month anniversary of the murder of 33-year-old Sean Maschal, of Mount Carmel, but no arrests have been made yet in the case.

Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz and Mount Carmel Township Police Chief Brian Hollenbush have received their share of criticism over the lack of charges being filed, but reiterated that the public faces no imminent danger despite nobody being arrested thus far.

On Friday, Hollenbush stated, “Our investigation is continuing. All the evidence in the case has been turned over to the district attorney’s office and criminal complaints were sent to Mr. Matulewicz’s office more than a month ago and are awaiting his approval. The only thing we are waiting for is evidence to come back from the crime lab in Harrisburg.”

Matulewicz stated, “The murder investigation is ongoing and voluminous. That’s all I can at this time.”

He declined comment when asked when charges are expected to be filed.

In January, Northumberland County Judge Hugh Jones denied a request to modify the bail for Robert Louis Villari Jr., 31, of 1139 Bear Valley Road, Coal Township, who was charged in September with felony offenses, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon that may be connected to Maschal’s murder case.

Villari’s attorney, Richard Feudale, of Mount Carmel, was seeking to have his client released from the Northumberland County Prison division at SCI-Coal Township to enter a rehabilitation center. But assistant district attorney Michael Seward objected to any bail modification, claiming there was no home plan established for Villari or any appropriate rehab available.

Villari is charged by Mount Carmel Township Patrolman Michael Pitcavage with felonies of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and criminal conspiracy, and misdemeanors of tampering with or fabricating evidence and obstructing administration of the law.

According to an affidavit in Pitcavage’s complaint, Villari “was present during the time a crime had been committed involving a handgun in Mount Carmel Township on Sept. 12.”

Hollenbush previously reserved comment when asked if the arrest is related to the Maschal case. Maschal’s body was found about 11:40 a.m. Sept. 12 along a trail in the woods off Routes 54/901 near Locust Gap. An autopsy determined he died from a gunshot wound to the head.

Pitcavage said in the affidavit that “during the course of an investigation, evidence developed” linking Villari to a Sept. 12 crime. He was interviewed and “admitted to handling and taking possession of a handgun in Mount Carmel Township after it was used in the course of that crime.”

It says Villari admitted to removing the magazine from the gun and discarding the bullets that were in the magazine, “while he would have known that he was making those items unavailable to officers performing the investigation that would be instituted.”

Pitcavage also charged Villari with admitting to disposing of an item of his clothing and the magazine from the gun inside a sewer drain. Those items were recovered by Hollenbush, the affidavit says.

The criminal complaint also states that Villari said the handgun was delivered to another person in the course of a transaction to obtain drugs for the defendant’s use, and that it was the defendant’s intentions to conspire with another person to possess, control and transfer the firearm to another person to obtain drugs.

Villari is among at least eight people taken into custody since Maschal’s murder who may have a connection to the case. Several people who were named in a three-page search warrant request affidavit that first circulated on social media and was later acknowledged as legitimate by police are among those incarcerated since the homicide.

Villari was not among those mentioned in the search warrant affidavit.