New evidence indicates the brutal murder of a South Oakland resident by her neighbor may have been premeditated, as police confirmed today that a small tunnel was found leading from Ann Hoover's home into the house where she was found dead.
Lawn Street resident and one-time Pitt student Roy Kirk apparently broke into Hoover's home by boring a hole through a common cellar wall before brutally murdering and dismembering her, according to police.
The County Coroner's office has stated Kirk killed Hoover by striking her over the head with a blunt object, possibly a hammer, and later strangled her to make sure she was dead.
The murder ended several years of feuding between the neighbors, but the tunnel and the strangulation both indicate this was not a crime of blind rage: Roy Kirk apparently knew what he was doing.
After killing Hoover, it appears that Kirk dragged her back into 321 Lawn St. through the small tunnel he dug in the basement and began cutting up the body so he could dispose of it, according to Cmdr. Ron Freeman of the Pittsburgh Police.
"The opening was just big enough for a person to crawl through, and we believe [Kirk] could well have broken in and dragged a body back through the hole to his building," Freeman said. "He was wrapping her severed parts when we found him, and we believe he was hoping to get them out of the house and dispose of them."
Kirk was discovered chopping apart Hoover's dead body yesterday morning after both failed to appear in court over a lawsuit filed against Kirk by Hoover and several other neighbors. The suit alleged Kirk's crumbling rowhouse was causing water damage to their adjoining homes and attracting vermin.
While being arrested neighbors say Kirk begged the police to kill him and that he wanted to die.
Police shackled the ranting the dirty, blood-spattered Kirk and placed him in the back of a police van and were taking him to the homicide division in East Liberty, but in the 12 minutes it took to drive to the station house, he worked his belt free from his pants and hanged himself.
Sources in the coronerUs office have stated that there will be a coroner's inquest into Kirk's death, but that the officers driving the van will probably not be charged with any misconduct in the death.
"Dr. [Cyril] Wecht has said there doesn"t appear to be any wrongdoing on the part of the officers," said a deputy coroner.
Police continued to search the two homes today and other properties around the area owned by Kirk. Freeman had no further comment about the case, but said he will be publicizing new findings as they come in.
Those who knew Hoover and Kirk are still reeling from the news, and say there was never any indication that an argument over property could take such a grisly turn.
"[Kirk] was always very nice," said Phillip Cossack, who lives on the other side of Hoover's residence. "He used to help Ann out with her own renovations whenever he could."
Cossack pointed to some refinished porch beams stretching from Hoover's home to Kirk's.
"When she had that done, she needed him to go along with it and renovate his side too since they were connected, and he did," Cossack said. "When they first knew each other they got along, but things went bad."
When Kirk couldn't raise the money to repair his own crumbling building, Hoover and other neighbors repeatedly took him to housing court, which resulted in nearly $50, 000 worth of fines.
"She brought in on herself," said Mary Ellen Cossack.
But other neighbors strongly disagree, saying Kirk was always negligent and uncooperative.
"Sure, [Hoover] was always asking him to fix his home and renovate his other properties, but she was reasonable. What he did was inhuman," said Chris Fromme, whose home overlooks Kirk's.
Maury Burgwin and his wife live several houses down from Kirk's building and were also involved in the lawsuit against him, but said his brutal reaction to their suit had nothing to do with property or arguments.
"Almost all of the people in the neighborhood were involved in trying to get him to improve his properties," Burgwin said. "The bottom line is this wasn't over property or court cases, this tragedy was the result of a very sick individual who had psychiatric problems."