PITTSBURGH - A man has been charged with homicide after the bodies of two people were found after a fire Monday at a home in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood.
Channel 11’s Liz Kilmer is talking with people who knew the victims for Channel 11 News, starting at 5 p.m.
Vincent Smith, 58, is charged with homicide, arson and other offenses. He admitted to throwing the men down stairs, banging their heads on steps, before setting the Penfield Place home on fire while police were there, according to a criminal complaint.
The incident started with a fight over marijuana, the complaint said.
Officers were in the home trying to track down one of the victims, who was reported missing by his family, the complaint said. When the officers made it to the first floor, Smith struck a match and tossed it toward them.
The body of 54-year-old John Van Dyke, who was reported missing after he didn’t show up for work last week, was found in the basement of the home Tuesday, officials said.
A family spokesperson said Van Dyke did not know the person who lived at the home and was not sure how he ended up there. The spokesperson also told Channel 11 News that the family spotted what appeared to be Van Dyke’s car parked outside the home while watching the news Monday night.
#BREAKING family spokesperson of Swissvale man who went missing last week has confirmed to me that John Van Dyke was found dead in basement of Point Breeze home. They say he did not know the person whose home he was found inside of. Body located under debris in basement. @WPXI pic.twitter.com/TN1a9ntgiV— Mike Holden (@WPXIMikeHolden) February 28, 2018
Crews were first called to the home Monday afternoon. The body of 71-year-old Steven Pariser was found in the basement.
The criminal complaint said Pariser's and Van Dyke’s bodies were in the basement for days after Smith covered them.
A neighbor recorded a cellphone video of the fire showing a man, identified by authorities as Smith, hanging out of an upstairs window with smoke billowing over his head.
Firefighters pulled Smith from the window Monday and took him to a hospital in critical condition, officials said.
“Finally, he came down the ladder. They wrestled him to the ground and put handcuffs on him,” Karen Ellison, a witness, said.
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Firefighters and police were seen swarming the house. The fire quickly spread and more firefighters were called to the scene as smoke and flames shot from the windows.
"The Fire Department was kind of staying back. There were police with guns drawn and they went around the building,” Tyler Lamb, who lives nearby, said.
Smith was previously convicted of simple assault in an unrelated case.
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