Homicide arraignment for Unity man accused of killing Cassandra Gross

Homicide arraignment for Unity man accused of killing Cassandra Gross
Homicide arraignment for Unity man accused of killing Cassandra Gross

Thomas G. Stanko was arraigned Tuesday in connection with the death of Cassandra Gross of Unity, the first of many hearings her mother Kathe Gross plans to attend in the homicide case.

“I’m going to see everyone,” Gross said outside the courtroom after Stanko, 52, of Unity, was denied bail. “I wouldn’t miss that.”

Stanko was charged by state police on Thursday, four and a half years after Cassandra Gross disappeared on April 9, 2018. He was arrested by videotape Tuesday from the Westmoreland County Jail by District Judge Tamara Mahady who has explained his rights and the charges against him of homicide, reckless burning, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.

Stanko told Mahady he could hire a lawyer from a previous case to represent him in the new charges. Cassandra Gross’ aunt, cousin, godmother and others sat in the front row during the brief audience.

Afterwards, Mahady answered their questions about legal proceedings and the law.

“The criminal process is slow,” she warned Gross’ family.

The soldiers zeroed in on Stanko as a potential suspect almost immediately after Gross disappeared, searching two properties he owned at the time in Unity. Searches for his body by Kathe and Harry Gross, as well as the state police, were unsuccessful.

Unity’s Cassandra Edlyn Gross called her mother on April 7, 2018, while driving on Route 30, heading to her Unity apartment. She had just finished having lunch with a friend at the Parkwood Inn in Southwest Greensburg. The mother and daughter planned to see each other the next day.

After the call with his mother, Gross’ phone connected to cell towers near Stanko’s home on Macey Road in Unity, according to the criminal complaint. Shortly after, he ceased contact with the network. Police said phone records show Gross and Stanko, who dated, talked throughout the day on April 7, 2018, discussing groceries and the possibility of getting together in the evening.

After Gross was reported missing two days later, Baxter, her since deceased blind diabetic dog, was found roaming alone in the Beatty Crossroads area and his Mitsubishi Outlander was found burnt alongside a train track near Twin Lakes Park.

Police said they recovered several “partially destroyed items” belonging to Gross from a burn barrel at the Macey Road home, including Coach eyeglass stems, a Michael Kors clothing tag and a broken medicine bottle that may have contained insulin for Baxter.

On April 10, 2018, Stanko told investigators he had not seen Gross since they attended a concert together four days earlier. The complaint said police spoke to two of Stanko’s former wives, who said he was violent towards them and threatened to dump their bodies in a secret location.

Stanko is in the county jail serving a seven-year federal sentence for firearms charges resulting from weapons found by police during their searches. He was incarcerated throughout the investigation on unrelated charges and maintained his innocence, denying any involvement in Gross’ disappearance and death.

Gross would have turned 56 this year, on May 17. She was declared legally dead in January 2019.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for November 14.

Renatta Signorini is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Renatta by email at [email protected] or through Twitter .

. Arrest for homicide for man dUnity accused of having killed Cassandra Gross

. Homicide arraignment Unity man accused killing Cassandra Gross

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