Pa. man charged in 1979 slaying

February 07, 1998|By DON AINES and STEVEN T. DENNISs

Pa. man charged in 1979 slaying

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg man was charged Friday with criminal homicide in the 1979 shooting death of a Waynesboro man, police said.

Michael Wayne McCormick Jr., 49, was arraigned before District Justice Larry Pentz and sent to Franklin County Prison with bail set at $40,000, according to the Pennsylvania State Police. He is charged with shooting Alan Bennett Cosey on the night of March 28, 1979, police said.

Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson said Cosey's death at 226 W. Second St., Waynesboro was originally ruled a suicide.


Cosey's widow, Vicki Lemmon, 42, of Chambersburg, told Chambersburg psychiatrist Dr. Harvey Shapiro last year that she didn't believe her husband committed suicide. Shapiro then contacted Franklin County Coroner Kenneth L. Peiffer Jr. and Peiffer's son, Kenneth L. Peiffer III, a private investigator.

The coroner said he looked into the case file, which included a letter from then-Waynesboro Police Chief Jude Walsh taking exception to the suicide ruling. Walsh cited the position and condition of the weapon when police arrived at the scene, according to Peiffer.

"The report itself, all the information in the report, pointed to a homicide, not a suicide, as far as I was concerned," Peiffer said.

"I have so many mixed emotions right now," Lemmon said. "I'm happy. I'm sad because it's bringing back everything. I can tell Ben (Cosey) he can rest in peace now."

Lemmon said she hopes the killer gets either the death penalty or a life sentence.

"I just want to see him, this may sound cruel, but I want to see him suffer like he made Ben suffer," Lemmon said.

Lemmon said she was told by a Waynesboro Police officer that they knew it wasn't a suicide but had been ordered to close the case.

Kenneth Peiffer Jr. said the gun used in the shooting was a reproduction of an antique black powder revolver.

Ken Peiffer III, of KLP Investigations Inc., said he met with the Cosey family July 23, 1997. He and his father met with the state police the next day.

Nelson said Pennsylvania State Police investigated McCormick because he had reported finding the body.

According to Pentz, charging documents said Cosey told police at their barracks Friday that he pulled the trigger on the handgun.

This is the second old suicide case that has been later ruled a homicide by Peiffer on a tip from Shapiro in the past two years.

In 1996, Joseph Leroy Souders was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his wife Jane Mitchell Souders in 1988 at their Little Cove Road home near Mercersburg.

Police originally believed Jane Souders killed herself.

Jane Souders' friend, Todd Rexroth of Newburg, Pa., told Shapiro that he didn't think her death was a suicide, and Shapiro passed along Rexroth's concerns to Peiffer.

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