State police search near Unity Cemetery for Cassandra Gross — missing since April
State police and a team of searchers spent several hours on Monday looking for a woman missing since April in and on the outskirts of Unity Cemetery.
Investigators were looking for Cassandra Gross, a Unity woman last seen April 7, or any clues that might lead them to her, said Trooper Stephen Limani. Gross would have turned 52 last month.
“We’re searching for anything that might lead us to Cassandra’s whereabouts and anything that would be some type of evidence to determine if she was in this area, if she’s alive, if she’s not alive or any evidence that would help us,” Limani said.
About 30 people were involved with the search, including Ohio-based Rapid Response Services, state police, Westmoreland County Fire and Rescue and 211 Rough Terrain Fire and Rescue. Two cadaver dogs also were available, Limani said.
Family members reported Gross missing on April 9. Norfolk Southern employees on April 10 spotted her burned red 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander in a wooded area along train tracks near Twin Lakes Park. In the days afterward, troopers were seen searching two Unity properties owned by Thomas G. Stanko, 47, who is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on unrelated charges. One of those properties abuts Unity Cemetery on White Fence Lane, where his mother lives.
Searchers on Monday contended with dense wooded areas and rough terrain. Jonathon Gingerich said his team from Christian Aid Ministries brought their mobile command post. Troopers contacted them for assistance.
“We just pay a lot of attention to detail,” said Gingerich, a coordinator for Rapid Response Services. “We’re trained to be clue-aware, and so we’re very thorough, very efficient.”
Spring and summer foliage makes it impossible to see anything from above, Limani said.
“There’s obviously reasons why we specifically came here and started to search these areas,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’m not able to expound on those reasons.”
Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, [email protected] or via Twitter @byrenatta.