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'He didn't deserve to be shot': Mother of murder victim has gone through 'living hell' the past 2 years

MOUNT CARMEL — The mother of 33-year-old murder victim Sean Maschal, of Mount Carmel, said her life has been a “living hell” since her son was killed two years ago.

During an interview Tuesday afternoon in her home at 428 N. Chestnut St., Catherine Langley said, “My son made some mistakes in his life, but he didn’t deserve to be shot. He was a good person and wasn’t the person people made him out to be. He fell into the wrong crowd and got addicted to drugs, but he had people who loved and cared about him. I’m having a difficult time dealing with his death. I can’t move on because there’s nothing that’s going to bring him back.”

Langley, who suffers from a serious heart condition and was discharged from the hospital Friday, said she wants to see her son’s murderer brought to trial and convicted so the two-year-old homicide case can be resolved.

Maschal’s 53-year-old mother, a Mount Carmel native, said drugs played a role in her son’s death and have wreaked havoc on her own life through the years, which she deeply regrets.

She claimed her son became involved with drugs in high school, which derailed his dream of becoming a skydiving instructor.

“I was pretty quiet about Sean’s murder for two years as the investigation took its course,” she said. “But with the anniversary of his death coming up Thursday, I wanted to let people know I’m still grieving and how tough it’s been to get the proper help I need.”

Langley, who broke down crying several times during the interview while recalling her son’s life, said she remains upset and angry about Sean’s murder. But she doesn’t blame the investigators or Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz for not bringing the case to trial yet.

“I understand that the police and district attorney are doing their best and want to make sure everything is covered before proceeding to trial,” she said. “But it’s still been frustrating for me. I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

When contacted Tuesday night, Matulewicz said, “I spoke to Miss Langley on the phone and in person dozens of times. I feel for her loss and I’m glad she has trust in the legal process.”

Langley, who doesn’t have medical insurance, still needs money to pay off expenses related to her son’s funeral and burial.

Langley said losing her mother and father six and 13 months, respectively, after her son’s murder has added to her grief. Her sister, Michelle Marquardt, 46, of Mount Carmel, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident Aug. 26 in Danville.

Langley has two daughters, Taylor Glassic, 25, of Marion Heights, and Haley Langley, 18, of Freeland; a son, Michael Maschal, 37, of Mount Carmel; and a granddaughter, Nevaeh Madden, 11, who is Sean’s daughter.

The trial for Maschal’s accused murderer Brian G. Heffner is expected to be held in January.

On Aug. 6, Northumberland County President Judge Charles H. Saylor granted court-appointed defense attorney John McLaughlin’s motion to continue the trial from September to give him more time to review new discovery evidence in the case.

On July 15, Saylor issued an order to suppress statements Heffner made to police during two interviews on Oct. 15, 2017, at SCI-Camp Hill.

Heffner, 38, of Coal Township, was arrested by Mount Carmel Township Patrolman Michael Pitcavage on April 12, 2018, on 14 charges, including homicide and robbery.

He is accused of shooting his lifelong friend in the back of the head with a .40-caliber handgun on Sept. 12, 2017, while they were riding in an SUV along Route 901 in Locust Gap with Robert Louis Villari Jr., 32, of Coal Township, and David Matthew Brown, 35, of Ashland.

Villari and Brown have not been charged directly in Maschal’s murder.


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Local man looking to make a difference in this community

SHAMOKIN — Anthony Ferguson wants to help underprivileged youth in this community and his mission comes from a very personal place.

Ferguson, who grew up in Philadelphia and now resides in Shamokin, heads a small collective of volunteers who are doing their best to ensure that all local children have school supplies.

This Saturday, Ferguson will take part in a school supply giveaway at the Sunbury Street playground from noon until 4 p.m. All children will receive a packet of supplies. The only requirement is that they have a parent accompanying them.

Should there be inclement weather, Ferguson said the supplies will be given away at the same time on Sunday, Sept. 15.

Shamokin City Council gave permission for the event to occur at Monday’s regular meeting.

“I grew up poor and had to choose each year whether to have clothes or school supplies,” said Ferguson. “My mom did her best to support the family, but we didn’t have much.”

Ferguson said he was teased in school and remembers skipping classes on occasion rather than deal with having to confront the bullies.

“A major reason behind my efforts to give away school supplies is that I simply don’t want kids to have to go through what I did growing up,” he said.

Ferguson, a father of three, pays for school supplies largely out of pocket. Notebooks, pencils, folders and a ruler are purchased and placed into packets for those in need to pick up during giveaway events. He’s received help in his efforts from friends Elizabeth and David Jiles.

On Aug. 24, Ferguson gave away 45 packets of school supplies at the Sunbury Street playground.

“Kids that show up get school supplies,” said Ferguson. “We just ask that the children be with a parent.”

Ferguson said he’s been trying to help the underprivileged for 10 years now, efforts that began in front of his dad’s barbershop in Philadelphia.

Ferguson graduated from Jim Thorpe High School and graduated with a degree in communications from North Hampton Community College.

He moved to the area in February of this year. Within the first month of being in the community, he said he encountered a local student upset over being bullied for a lack of clothing and school supplies.

“That moment was when I knew I wanted to do something in this area also to help,” said Ferguson.

He said he’s enjoyed his time thus far in the area, but says that no matter where one comes from or calls their home, “we can always do better.”

On the topic of bullying, which is an unfortunate reality in all schools, Ferguson says the topic is deeper than people may think.

“I mentor many kids and I do not and will never condone bullying,” said Ferguson. “But it’s important to note that many times these bullies come from families that have issues that led to the behavior.”

Ferguson believes that while it’s important to call out bullying and ensure the bullies don’t get away with such behavior, getting to the root of the issue through talking with kids is vital.

Ferguson noted that donations are welcome and that those interested in helping may call him at 267-896-1296.

“Donations are gladly accepted,” said Ferguson. “I have a regular job and do the best I can to help others, but I thank any and all donors.”


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Coroner, locals reflect on 9/11

The memories of Sept. 11, 2001, will remain etched in the hearts and minds of every American who watched and listened as the terror attacks on America unfolded that day.

Yet for three individuals with local ties to the Shamokin area, two of whom witnessed the tragic events unfold in person, and another who would later travel to ground zero, the personal recollections of 9/11 bear even greater significance.

“I, like all Americans, was horrified and petrified by the events that transpired on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001,” said Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley, who visited ground zero several months after the attacks. “Through the course of that day, I kept thinking if and how I could assist anyone.

“The following morning I called the New York City office of the chief medical examiner (NYC-OCME) and National Funeral Directors Association to volunteer my assistance. I thought with my experiences as a funeral director and coroner, I’d be capable of helping in some way. The NYC-OCME contacted me a few days later to begin the process of scheduling, logistics, etc, and after securing a place to live in NYC, I traveled there in early March to begin my two weeks of duty.”

Upon arriving at the medical examiner’s office, Kelley discovered that his job was to assist anyone who needed help. Among the duties he completed were paperwork and filing; meeting with families of those who perished; taking DNA samples; various morgue duties; releasing the deceased to funeral homes; and working with the medical examiners staff, NYPD, FDNY and Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team personnel.

“Upon arriving at (ground zero), everything and everyone was busy with various tasks, but all were carried out with the utmost respect and compassion,” Kelley said.

“I don’t often speak about this stage of my life. The people I worked with were the most caring individuals I have ever met in my lifetime,” he added. “I was proud to help, but prayers should continue to be said for the families who live with the event daily and the experts who spent months or years assisting them. I was truly ready to come home to my loved ones. I promise to always remember the 11th of September.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, Shamokin native Jeanne Bowers was visiting her daughter, Cara Burrell, who lived in an apartment on Houston Street in New York City — about 20 blocks from ground zero.

“I have always loved September mornings — with crisp air and bright blue skies. That Tuesday was no different,” Burrell said. “It was a gorgeous morning, that I can easily recall.

“I remember hearing the plane and remarking to my parents, who were visiting me, ‘There are no low-flying airplanes in Manhattan.’ The rest of that morning was a jumble of frantic phone calls to friends and trips to my roof to watch how everything was unfolding, along with never-ending prayers that this was going to end better than it did,” she added. “I stood there on my roof with my parents and neighbors, watching the towers collapse.”

Burrell remembered that the thing about being a New Yorker then was the intense feeling of loyalty to the city.

“We banded together and held each other tight. I will never forget the smell that lingered and the never-ending layers of dust that appeared on my windowsills. The knowledge of what that dust was made of I will never forget,” she said.

Bowers was also horrified, shocked and saddened by what she witnessed that day.

“It was unfortunate to be 20 blocks from the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11. My husband, daughter and I witnessed the entire day from the rooftop of my daughter’s NYC condo. The first plane flew directly overhead and hundreds of birds flew north through the streets of West Village,” she said. “As smoke and ash filled the sky, buses, trains, taxis and cars all became silent. Streets were closed and people in shock walked quietly — unable to fathom what happened that beautiful day.”


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'Just devastating': Southern Columbia seniors discuss the Sept. 11 tragedy

CATAWISSA — The tragedy of 9/11 had a memorable and lasting impact on all who were of age during the terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda on the United States. Memories of millennials include educators talking quietly to peers, classroom televisions documenting the tragedy in real time, early dismissals of schools and general confusion reigning.

But to those born in 2001 or 2002, memories of 9/11 may be a bit hazier.

Five seniors at Southern Columbia Area High School all concurred that finding out about 9/11 as children was a complete and utter shock.

Maggie Morrison, 17, said she first learned of the attacks several years after 2001 while in elementary school. Given the nature of the incidents, she was frightened that it happened and said it really showed her how much 9/11 impacted our country.

“I heard stories about that day from relatives,” shared 18-year old Morgan Marks, who was a baby when the attacks took place. “Over time, I remember my parents talking about it. It was just devastating to hear about.”

Victoria Brown, 17, said her initial reaction to hearing of the attacks on 9/11 was fear and worry.

“I was confused as a child; I didn’t think that kind of thing could ever happen,” Brown said. “It made me think more and more about the dangers that exist in the world.”

Luke Brokus, 17, said history classes taught in elementary school helped educate him on the tragedy.

“It was crazy and just terrifying that it happened to our country,” he said.

Luke Caputo, 18, said the number of deaths that occurred on 9/11 are “awful to think about.”

“It was a day in history that shows just how bad things can be,” said Caputo, whose initial memories of 9/11 go as far back as in first grade.

Each year around Sept. 11th, the group said they learned more and more through remembrances, memorials, classes and through television and other forms of media.

“Every year, we get more information regarding the events of that day,” said Brown.

Caputo, who was born 12 days prior to 9/11, added that during his time attending North Schuylkill, classes would do reports each year on the tragedy.

Today, the group is among Southern Columbia Middle and High School students who are encouraged to take part in the “9/11 Good Deed Challenge.”

The challenge is part of a national project sponsored by the non-profit group, Tomorrow Together, which was launched on Sept. 11, 2016. The goal of the Good Deed Challenge is to “transform 9/11 from a day of tragedy into a day of service, unity and peace.” It seeks to generate tens of thousands of good deeds by young people who want to make the world a better place.

Students and staff also will engage in lessons and other activities that allow them to reflect on the terror attacks that occurred in New York City, the U.S. Pentagon and on United Flight 93 in 2001.

A moment of silence will take place at about 8:45 am, the moment when the first plane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.


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'Joke' leads to charge of prostitution for man, 76

WATSONTOWN — A 76-year-old Lycoming County man has been charged with prostitution and related offenses, and harassment, as the result of an alleged incident which occurred Aug. 23 at a Canal Street apartment which he owns.

Paul Russell Jarrett, of 639 Narber Fry Road, Pennsdale, was charged Tuesday in the office of District Judge Michael Diehl, of Milton, in connection with the incident that occurred at 8 a.m. Aug. 23 at 110 Canal St., Apt. 3, Watsontown.

In court documents, Watsontown Police Department Lt. Rick Faux said he launched an investigation into the alleged incident after a woman reported Jarrett asked her to lick him in an inappropriate manner in exchange for an outstanding $50 rent payment.

The woman told Faux she was “distraught” over Jarrett’s comments, and said he had made similar remarks in the past, even though she told him to stop.

In the affidavit, Faux wrote that the woman said Jarrett “made numerous offers to exchange the monthly rent money owed to him for the victim to allow Jarrett to perform sex acts with the victim.”

Upon questioning by police, Faux wrote in the affidavit that Jarrett recalled “comments made between the two about swapping sex for rent.”

Jarrett allegedly said he remembered something being said about the victim’s “butt,” but claimed he was joking.

He also allegedly told Faux that he recalled joking with the woman about her licking him inappropriately in exchange for $50.

“Jarrett says there were times when he was there to collect the rent that the two would ‘joke’ about trading sex for the rent payment,” the affidavit said. “Jarrett denied that the sex talk was meant to mean intercourse.”

According to the affidavit, Jarrett said he believed the two were joking about exchanging sexual acts for money even though “there were times the victim seemed bothered by the remarks.”

“Jarrett tells he does not believe the victim is lying about the conversations or behavior but his defense is that he was ‘only joking’ and would have never carried out the act(s),” the affidavit said.

Jarrett was released on $20,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sept. 25.