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Repost: Traumatic shootings in Lilly in 1975

Flashback: Lilly Shootings, 1975, my recollections


Lilly 40 years after the shootings


First posted on Blogspot


... a scary time for a small town


When you heard a siren in our small town in the 1970s, it was generally from a fire truck rushing to a fire or accident. Seldom did you hear many police sirens, but that was not the case over three days in July 1975.


I had returned to the area the previous summer and was now waiting for my first full-time teaching job in the fall.


However, on a Sunday night, July 20, sirens were coming from a variety of directions. That was the start of three shootings, one in Lilly itself, one outside Lilly, and another in Cresson Township, over a period of three days.


I then heard the phone, and the Tribune-Democrat asked if I could help them obtain information about a shooting that had taken place in Lilly. I said that I would try to discover what was taking place. She gave me the street address that had come over the scanner, and it was near the War Memorial Field.


First shooting

The person who had been shot was Dave Krumenaker, a 14-year-old who lived on Piper Street. I tried to track down as much information as I could, but it was sketchy.

I taught Dave later that year, but he was quiet and I never asked him anything about the shooting. However, I did interview him in 2002 and wrote a newspaper column about it. At that time, the D.C. shootings were taking place, and Dave had been interviewed by the Post-Gazette.


As a result, I decided to talk with him.


Two other shootings


First, flashing forward with the story, two nights later two more shootings occurred. The first was of Kim Strayer, a young woman who had just graduated from high school and who lived in Dutchtown, an area outside of Lilly.


Like Dave, she survived the shooting.


At the same time, Miles Lingle, of Sankertown, a man who worked at the water pumping station for the Cresson State School and Hospital, was shot and killed by a sniper.


That night, the sirens were a-blazing, and so-called security people roamed the streets of Lilly and its environs with rifles and other weapons. It was scary, particularly since some of those people with guns had come directly out of the bars.


Accused


Only one man was ever charged with the shootings, and the late chief of police in Lilly later told me that the accused could never have shot Kim Strayer. He had been in a bar in Cassandra and could not have gotten into the Strayer back yard at the time of the shooting.


We discussed why the accused took the fall for it if he did not commit the crime.


No one was ever charged in the Krumenaker shooting or the killing of Lingle.


Dave Krumenaker


In the 2002 interview, Dave explained what happened after he saw a rock that was thrown through the family's kitchen window. "I was running down the steps and my knee gave out (from a previous injury) when I reached the door. Then I turned and saw the flash," he said.


He saw no one nor did he hear the shot, he said.

Their home is located adjacent to a rail spur line that used to take the coal from mines that were located outside of town. The shooter was situated on those tracks, and he had set up the young boy by throwing the rock through the window.

Except that Dave may not have been the target. No one knows exactly why the gunman was after anyone in the family of Howard and Betty Krumenaker. Nor did anyone know why Lingle was targeted.


There were theories galore, but nothing that could ever result in an arrest or the filing of criminal charges.


Injury


The injury to the young boy was serious, perhaps even critical. He said in 2002 that he has a hole in his neck the size of a quarter, but the exit wound amazed him even 27 years later. "When I was in the hospital, the nurses put me on my stomach and put a mirror above (the wound). it was huge. I was only 14, but I could have put my fist through it. I look at it now and wonder, 'How could anyone survive that?' "


A couple of the theories about the Krumenaker shooting included one about poaching and another about a dog. The first was that the shooters were actually trying to kill some neighbors who had run them off when they were poaching deer outside of Lilly.


The second was that Howard McCarthy, who worked at the St. Brigid Church complex, had run off the two suspects from the church because they had their dog inside of it and would not leave.


Not sure if either was correct.

The police chief at that time, Francis "Hubba" Patterson, told the Post-Gazette in 2002, "I have my ideas," he said. "But the case will still be there when I die."


Patterson was correct. He passed away in 2010, and neither the Krumenaker case nor the Lingle killing had ever been solved.


In conversations I had with Hubba in the 1980s, he felt that the same two men were responsible for the Krumenaker and Lingle shootings. They subsequently left the area and went to New Jersey. These were a father and son, and the father allegedly died in a mental hospital in Jersey in the 80s.


That is one reason that the case foundered. The other was just a lack of evidence.


Police tried to crack them


The police tried to solve the killings. "The state police used to pull up in their air conditioned car and we would look through photos," Krumenaker told me. "They asked me questons about certain people. But I don't why anyone would have done that *."


Lack of motivation for both shootings was a key factor in it. Some theorized that Lingle might have run off the two men for poaching if they had done that on state grounds.


Again, not certain if the police had any evidence of that.


Results


Dave said that he had difficulty sleeping for about a month after he returned home from the hospital. However, that ended one night when he said that he thought that he heard a shot.


There was none, but it was finally the event that allowed him to let go of it.

Recent years


I ran into Dave a few years ago in the parking lot at Giant Eagle in Ebensburg. We never talked about the shooting, just about how things were going in our lives.


He has worked at a foundry in Mundy's Corner for many years. I never told him at the time, but I am proud that he was able to overcome that, become a father and productive employee in life.


Trauma like that can linger, but he said back in 2002 that he held no resentment about it. He put it aside and went along with life. That is commendable.


Fortunately, that was the most violence that my little hometown had experienced since the KKK riot in 1924, which was certainly more violent and deadly.


However, it has not had any days quite as scary since those in 1975.





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