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Death of Chambersburg man found in yard ruled a homicide

August 07, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Residents along Hemlock Circle heard a shot in the dark Wednesday morning, but it was not until daylight that one of them discovered the body of a 42-year-old borough man, dead of a gunshot wound to the face.

Timothy A. Short, address unavailable, died of a single gunshot wound to the face and neck, Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said Wednesday night. The manner of death was homicide, he said.

Short was pronounced dead at the scene, Conner said. An autopsy was performed at Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown, Pa., he said.

By early Wednesday afternoon, Detective Sgt. Dianne Kelso said the identity of the man was unknown. Short's name was released by police shortly after 9 p.m.

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The 911 call came in at 8:15 a.m. reporting a "man was down and possibly deceased," according to a police news release. Kelso said the man was dead when police arrived and had head trauma.

"We heard a shot at 2 this morning, my husband did," said Katrina Pettner of 10 Hemlock Circle. Her husband, Gary Pettner, got up and turned on the front porch light, but did not see anything and went back to bed, she said.

As Gary Pettner was about to leave the house shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday, he saw the body between their home and 8 Hemlock Circle, lying on bare earth beneath a tree, Katrina Pettner said.

"He brought me out to see if I knew the person, because I do a lot of street ministry," Katrina Pettner said. She did not recognize the man, whom she said had been "shot between the eyes."

No weapons were found at the scene, Kelso said Wednesday afternoon. Short was apparently killed several hours before his body was discovered, she said.

The man was white, clean shaven and was wearing work boots, blue jeans and what appeared to be a brown suede jacket, said Ellen Staub, who lives across the street from where the body was found and also heard a shot at about 2 a.m. Pettner added that the man had dark hair and one of his hands was stuck in his pocket.

"There were no vehicles here that were unusual," said Anna Staub, Ellen's mother. She and other neighbors said they did not see any vehicles towed from the area by police after the body was found.

Anna Staub also said she did not recall hearing any vehicles drive off after the gunshot.

Anna Staub, who has lived on Hemlock Circle for two years, said she was awakened by what sounded like a gunshot, but did not call police because her cell phone does not get service inside her home and she feared going outside to make a call.

Behind the Pettner's house was a lilac bush with a broken branch. Katrina Pettner said it was apparently damaged overnight.

"I realized they must have struggled," Pettner said, adding that Short might have been trying to get to her back door to seek help before being shot.

Pettner has lived in the neighborhood for about nine years and said it is a generally quiet street.

"The whole time we've been here, it's been very quiet," Anna Staub said.

Chambersburg police are asking anyone who had contact with Short Tuesday night or Wednesday morning to contact them at 717-264-4131.

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