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Inquest to probe Pa. death

February 20, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A coroner's inquest will be conducted into the Jan. 21 drug-related death of a Waynesboro man, according to a report by Franklin County Coroner Kenneth L. Peiffer Jr. and Waynesboro Police Chief Glenn Phenicie.

The coroner also will examine any further evidence and witnesses regarding the death of Russell M. "Russ" Howard, 20.

An inquest is held to determine whether anyone other than the deceased was criminally responsible for the death, and if so, to identify the person, the report states.

"The case has been under investigation since he (Howard) was found," Phenicie said. "We're trying to find out how he got the drugs."

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The inquest will be held March 6 at 2 p.m. in the jury assembly room of the Franklin County Courthouse in Chambersburg, Pa.

The case will then be referred to the Franklin County District Attorney's office, Phenicie said.

Howard, a resident of 6 S. Church St., was found unresponsive at the home of a friend, David Hockenberry, 147 N. Church St., on the morning of Jan. 21, according to the report.

He was taken to Waynesboro Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:13 a.m. by Dr. Norbert Mathias, an emergency room physician.

Borough police were contacted at 7:15 a.m. and were called to the emergency room at the hospital. Later, police searched Howard's home using a Chambersburg police dog, Phenicie said.

An autopsy and a subsequent toxicological survey revealed Howard's death to be drug-related, according to the coroner's report. The death was attributed to the toxic effects of opiates.

The type of drug that produced death in this case could have caused depression to the central nervous system, ultimately resulting in respiratory arrest, the report states.

Howard was a resident of Waynesboro and attended schools in the Waynesboro Area School District, according to an obituary notice.

He had worked as a clerk at Thos. Somerville Company in Chambersburg, a wholesale plumbing business.

Prior to that, Howard worked in maintenance at Benju Corp. in Waynesboro and as a baker at Little Caesar's Pizza, Waynesboro.

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