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Jul. 1st, 2005 @ 04:17 pm New Here: This Case May Never Go To Trial
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(Post from my Livejournal)
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This murder occured a neighborhood over in the summer of 1997. I remembering hearing about it as someone jumped out of the car and said something along the lines, "did you hear so-so was murdered?" to a group of people I was with. I did not know this young woman, but many of those I did seemed to know her. She died a horrific death.

There were a few suspects from my neighborhood. One, a guy, who was involved, somewhat, in an insult on me the summer before. Meaning after the gun was stolen, he was the one calling and giving me death threats, but I won't go into that here.

But alas, they never came up with a viable witness and believe it was a passing serial killer that murdered her. This was not the murderers first crime and he was only honing his skills.

All I can supply you with is the last online article that was found. Seems there is nothing else available since, unless I'm just horrible at research. If anyone finds anything more recent, I'd highly appreciate it.

I appologize before hand, it does go into detail, for as much detail as they police allow.

Date Publication Category Author Illustration
03/23/1997 ALS muschi B

Police still seek slayer of Dormont woman

By Paul Muschick


"Something happened to Catherine," the caller told David Corkery in that unforgettable midnight phone call one hot July eight years ago.

Catherine was the second youngest of his four children, his youngest daughter.

"Well, the first thing that I thought of was an automobile accident," Corkery recalled recently. "No, it was worse than that. She was murdered."

The young and pretty girl's horrible death so close to her Dormont home has tormented her family ever since.

The question of who choked, beat, stabbed and sexually assaulted her, then set her small, lifeless body on fire after the painful abuse also has confounded detectives trying to solve one of the region's most hideous slaughters in years.

"Nobody deserves to get killed, especially this young girl the way this happened," said Allegheny County Homicide Sgt. Nicholas Bruich, the lead case detective.

"It's the sickest one, the most heinous homicide I've seen."

Corkery was accosted while walking home from a party.

Detectives have crawled beneath porches and dug through stinkin trash for clues. They've interviewed 200 people. They've put up a reward.

But the killer of the 22-year-old bookkeeper who had just left her mother's home and moved in with her boyfriend remains a mystery in the relatively safe bedroom community of 9,800 just south of

The case also has bothered detectives so much that the homicide squad chief used to keep a photo of Corkery on his desk.

Pittsburgh Crime Stoppers put up a $2,000 cash reward Wednesday still hoping for fresh leads in the case. Information, filed in 10-inch thick folders, has outgrown a file cabinet and soon will need a second box.

Anyone with information can call 255-8477. All calls will be kept confidential.


Bruich had worked in the homicide division for seven years and had seen plenty of deaths when he and his partner, the late David McManus, were called to Voelkel Avenue at 7:15 a.m. Saturday, July
22, 1989.

But what he saw under the blanket beneath the apple tree in a homeowner's back yard was the worst.

It hasn't been topped in the eight years since. Even by headless corpses.

"I try not to get personally involved. (But) you'd like to get whoever did this," Bruich said.

A man was dumping his trash when he found Corkery at the rear of his lawn, along the Port Authority Transit's light rail line, within eyesight of busy Potomac Station. All she wore were clip-on earrings.

"She was only as big as a minute, and they did a number on her," said her father, 57, of Carnegie.

It took 16 hours for the coroner to identify the woman through dental records and fingerprints. She was so small and looked so young, authorities first thought she was a schoolgirl.

"Probably when it really got to me was the funeral itself, when we were taking her out to the cemetery," her father said. "They had closed the Parkway down, there were so many cars. Just to be that young and dead ... ."


The night before her death, Corkery met two friends at a Mt. Lebanon bar after her day shift at Penn Parking Systems, Downtown.

She was preparing to take community college courses at night. The 1986 Mt. Lebanon High School graduate wanted to enter social work,like her mom.

Police said Corkery and her friends walked a few blocks from their watering hole to a house party on Academy Avenue.

Many of the 40 people there remembered seeing Corkery, a trim, athletic-looking woman, 5 feet 1 inch tall and weighing 100 pounds. They placed her at the party until about 2 a.m.

"Nobody actually saw her leave or leave with anybody," Bruich said.

Detectives believe she walked home, like many others using the dark "T" tracks as a shortcut to Dormont, where she had just moved in with her boyfriend on Ordinance Avenue.

Her father isn't convinced she left alone, but said if she did, she made herself a target.

"I kind of blame her for it," he said. "She was in a place she shouldn't have been."

The Friday night was clear and a humid 78 degrees. No trolleys ran that late, so there was no one to witness any unaccompanied woman's nightmare - a man reaching from the shadows of the trees and homes tightly packed along the gravel-lined tracks.

"We feel she was grabbed somewhere along the tracks," Bruich said.

Corkery's accoster twisted a rope-like restraint around her throat and pulled her to the tracks. Her head split when it struck a rail, Bruich said.

Then he pulled her along with the human leash. "It was a control mechanism to bring her down that area," Bruich said.

The man sexually assaulted her and strangled her somewhere along the tracks, detectives believe.

Then they say he opened the unlocked wooden gate to the rear of 2933 Voelkel Ave. and dropped her under the apple tree, at the end of a concrete walkway, 40 feet from the red-brick house. She couldn't be seen from the tracks because of a hedge.

Bruich said Corkery was dead by the time the assailant started a fire with gasoline, placed her in the flames and fled. He took her blue jeans, pink top, sneakers and most of the evidence, letting the flames destroy the rest.

The coroner ruled Corkery died of strangulation and head injuries, with slashes to her abdomen a contributing factor.


Neighbors who live along the "T" tracks are used to trolleys squeaking past during the day and talkative people strolling on empty rails at night. They don't mind a little noise and didn't hear or see anything unusual, Bruich said.

Although a since-destroyed parking lot and portions of the tracks have lights, the shadows provided plenty of cover. Bruich said when he stood where Corkery's body was found, detective McManus couldn't see him from the home's back yard.

Someone did see a woman screaming in a red car, but that wasn't related. A patron leaving Albert's bar on Broadway Avenue told detectives he saw a "flash" between 3 and 3:30 a.m., possibly the
gasoline igniting.

"We walked through everybody's back yards. We checked under porches, looking for the clothing," Bruich said.

Police visited every address along the route Corkery likely walked. A person closing a door to keep out the heat helped a little.

"We had one witness who saw a tall male and a much shorter female walking in the area at this time," he said.

Corkery's boyfriend had attended the party with her, but left earlier because he had to work the next morning, police said.

He returned from work during the day to an empty apartment. He called friends. No one could find Corkery. His stomach dropped when he saw the murder story on the evening news, and he called police to say it might be her.

Detectives cleared the boyfriend and everyone they could find from the party as suspects, Bruich said.

David Corkery still wonders if someone from the party killed his daughter, or if she left with someone no one saw.

"I think it was somebody that knew her. I think maybe it started at that party and somebody just didn't want to take no for an answer," he said.

Police aren't sure where the killer got the gasoline for his fire. They found several full gas cans in back yards, but never could determine if he borrowed them.


Dormont is close to the city, but far from city crime. Residents in the square-mile community regularly walk the streets alone at night. Car thefts and vandalism, not bloody murder, are the local menaces discussed over lunch.

Because of the nature of the killing and the fire, rumors of a cult quickly spread.

Police ruled that out, but say they believe the method was significant, a possible indicator of someone who had done this before. The non-fatal slashes to Corkery's body and the fire could have been for sexual gratification, authorities speculate.

"This is a signature," Bruich said. "Whether they knew it or not, it was a signature-type killing."

But there had not been any identical slayings in the region.

"It's a unique case. Fortunately, we don't get that in this area, the way he did the killing itself and the aftermath."

Detectives took their case to the FBI to develop a suspect profile. They entered it in two national computer databases. If a new crime is entered that has a similar detail, Corkery's file will flash up and the detectives can compare notes. Some police agencies have called
with hits.

One local case detectives compared to Corkery's was the 1988 killing of a Richland Township woman found nude in a drainage ditch off Route 19 in Cranberry Township, Butler County.

"We had some leads we checked out of state," Bruich said. "We had a similar case which was out of state that had some similarities."


There are a few suspects, although no one ever has been charged.

"One we had looked at is incarcerated in another state on a homicide, so he's not going anywhere," Bruich said. "We have some possibilities, but we can't tie them in."

Corkery's father said he didn't know of anyone stalking his daughter or any enemies she had.

Police are at the point where they are asking for help in solving the crime. They say they still have leads.

"We haven't forgotten it," Bruich said. "You'll never forget this case."


Story 7 of 22

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I can't get this case out of my head. Even if it leaves for so long it always manages to pop back in and it becomes an obsession. I hate cold-cases, they depress me. I just wish Cathrine Cokery could find closure.
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Date:July 2nd, 2005 11:48 am (UTC)
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Wow, that is creepy and very sad. I think the weirdest part is her father.

"Her father isn't convinced she left alone, but said if she did, she made herself a target.

'I kind of blame her for it,' he said. 'She was in a place she shouldn't have been.'"

What kind of parent blames their daughter for her rape, murder, and torture/burning death?
Date:April 8th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
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I agree completely: I think her father's statement is very unusual.
Date:February 8th, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
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I was a very close friend of Cathy's for the few years I knew her. I miss her dearly, and it still to this day (and especially today for some reason) bothers me. Actually "bothers me" would be a gross understatement, as I sit here trembling, running a gamut of emotions very difficult to nail down. I am still, after all this time furious that someone would do this to any friend of mine, and even more tormented by the fact that it was Cathy. I'm forever saddened that I never got to say goodbye.

Of all the friends I've ever met, she had to have been the most caring, kind, sincere, friendliest person I've ever met. How in the world could anyone know her and feel she deserved such brutality? Over 20 years have past and there is still no closure. That makes it even harder to accept.

Throughout these past 20 years I have not only lived briefly in Dormont, but I've worked in Dormont, Beechview, Greentree and in doing so, I've had to pass all the places that bring up the memories of her life and her murder. I've talked with a few locals about it, but found nobody who knew her, or even all that much about the murder which was almost right in their own back yard. Hell, you can spit from one end of Dormont to the other if the wind is right.

Cathy was my room mate's girlfriend. That's how I met her. I used to go pick her up at the 7-11 in my car and bring her over to our house to hang out with us for the weekends. When I was off work with a broken arm, Cathy and i would spend the whole day long talking and listing to music, until my room mates got home. When the weekend was over, I drove her back home. A couple years later when they broke up, Cathy was still a part of our family of friends in the North Hills. We were all very shaken by the news of her murder.

As you could guess, after 20 years everyone has gone there own direction in life, and I hardly ever hear from any of the old gang. When we do talk, we rarely bring up Cathy. It just hurts so much to lose someone we loved as much as her.

Someone out there must know something. If her killer is still at large, he needs to be brought to justice. If he is found, or if it proven that one of the suspects is guilty, I would very much like to know, and I'd like to be there to look the fucker in the eye when they flip the switch.
Date:February 14th, 2008 03:23 am (UTC)
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I also knew Cathy, worked with her when she was at Giant Eagle. We used to ride the bus together. And she was friends with some of my younger Mt Lebanon neighbors. She came over and held my youngest son when he was born. She was a beautiful young woman; so full of life and promise. I still live in Mt. Lebanon and often think about Cathy. I have never been able to forget her brutal murder, so close to home and unsolved thse 20 years.
Date:September 3rd, 2010 08:21 am (UTC)
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I don't know how long you knew Cathy, but I knew her long enough and well enough that she trusted me with her most guarded secret and details of her reoccurring dream. She'd roll over in her grave if she knew I told anyone, and anyone I told would say I'm crazy, but... the killer hasn't been convicted, and until he is, I'm not safe to reveal any of it.