Gun charges dropped against boyfriend of missing woman

Gun charges dropped against boyfriend of missing woman

GREENSBURG, Pa. — The boyfriend of missing Westmoreland County woman Cassandra Gross was back in court Monday on charges unrelated to the investigation into Gross' disappearance.

The hearing took an unexpected turn when the judge dismissed the charges against Thomas Stanko.

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Stanko is the estranged boyfriend of Gross, who has been missing for more than three weeks.

He has never been charged with her disappearance, but his properties were searched in the investigation, officials said.

During Monday’s hearing, the judge dismissed all firearms charges, which stemmed from when detectives searched Stanko’s home and his mother's while investigating the disappearance of Gross.

The judge said the commonwealth did not prove evidence and only presented assumption.

"I feel the judge did a great job today, he listened to all the testimony and made a fair decision based on the law," said David Shrager, Stanko's attorney.

Investigators said they found most of the guns in bedrooms inside a home where Stanko's mother lives.

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Stanko's mother took the stand, saying most of the guns belonged to her late husband and Thomas.

The judge said there was no evidence Stanko controlled, used or had direct access to firearms.

"There has to be evidence. It can't just be an assumption," Shrager said. "It just can't be an allegation."

The judge also heard testimony of the discovery of a stolen ATV on Stanko's property concealed and hidden by barrels and firewood.

The judge held that case for trial.

Gross was reported missing by her family on April 10. Investigators said her burned-out Mitsubishi Outlander was found near railroad tracks in Twin Lakes Park that evening.