11 Investigates: City of Pittsburgh worker vanishes, public works truck abandoned

PITTSBURGH — Channel 11 Chief Investigator Rick Earle has learned that a City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works employee went missing back in June.

His city truck was found abandoned.

It’s a case you’ve never heard about, until now.

Pittsburgh Police said they didn’t release any information because at the time, they didn’t know what they had.

Tonight, five months later, there are still a lot of questions.

And it looks like any answers may be tough to come by.

It happened in the early morning hours of June 9 in Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhood of Lincoln-Lemington, Pittsburgh police found a city of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works truck abandoned on Manning Street around 1:30 am but there was no sign of the city worker anywhere.

Earle spoke with Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto about the case.

Earle: Is it your understanding that the city worker was abducted from his truck?

Scirotto: The manner in which he goes missing is still rather unclear.

Earle: But he was in a city vehicle?

Scirotto: That’s correct.

According to police, the worker’s wife filed a missing person’s report with police at 12:30 a.m. on June 9.

She said the last time she saw him was 19 hours early around 5:30 a.m. on June 8, as he was leaving for his work shift at DPW.

Earle discovered what happened during those 19 hours is a mystery, mainly because the worker isn’t cooperating with police.

But the city administration won’t release any details either.

So, there are a lot of questions.

Did anyone here notice that he didn’t return to the division by quitting time and that his truck was still out?

And why didn’t anyone report him missing?

Earle: Why was there no information put out by the department about this missing city worker?

Scirotto: At the time, I don’t believe the city knew exactly his whereabouts.

Police do know he returned home two hours after his wife reported him missing.

She called police and canceled the missing person report.

Police said the city worker had been severely beaten and later that morning somehow managed to drive himself to the hospital.

Today, five months later, the city worker still won’t tell police what happened to him. He said he doesn’t want to pursue any criminal charges and wants to put it all behind him.

Earle: Here’s a city employee, on city time, in a city vehicle, does he have that option? Doesn’t he have an obligation to let you investigate this case?

Scirotto: I don’t know what the city’s demand of the victim would be.

The chief couldn’t answer that question, so we went straight to the mayor.

Earle: There was a worker abducted from his truck in Lincoln-Lemington. He was in a city truck on city time, concerned about that?

Gainey: No, I’m not going to discuss personnel issues.

The Mayor refused to discuss the case.

And Earle has learned the city employee, who spent several weeks in the hospital, was allowed to return to work with the city, even though he won’t talk to police.

Earle pressed Gainey again for more information.

Gainey: That’s personnel issue.

Earle: But it involved a city truck and it was city worker on city time and it was tax dollars involved. Do you have an obligation to say what happened to this guy? He disappeared?

Gainey: I’m not going to discuss personnel issues. You know that. I’m not going to do it.

Earle: You can’t talk about any of that situation.

Gainey: No, personnel issues, I’m not.

Earle: Even though it involves city truck, city tax dollars, a city worker?

Earle said it’s unclear if the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations conducted an inquiry into all of this.

Sources told Earle the worker was reportedly up for a promotion before his disappearance.

Sources said he did not get the promotion and was transferred to another public works division.

Police said they will reopen the investigation if the city worker decides to pursue the case.

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