Three found dead in unrelated incidents

By Dillon Provenza

THE DERRICK Staff Writer


State police at Clarion report three people were found dead Saturday afternoon Feb. 20 in the same general area of Paint Township, but the cases are not related.

Police said Clarion University student James Whitman, 21, of Florida, was found dead near a crashed vehicle, where Samuel Paine, 78, and Lucille Paine, 80, both of Strattanville, were found dead.

Police said Whitman's death was accidental and no foul play or intent to harm himself is suspected.

Police said they are trying to determine through autopsies how long Samuel and Lucille Paine had been deceased.

The deaths of Whitman and the Paines are "completely unrelated" and are being investigated separately, police said. Marienville state police is assisting in the investigation of Whitman's death.

Police said they were notified Whitman had gone missing at about 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, and their investigation led them to Miola and McCleary roads, where troopers and firefighters searched the woods toward Toby Creek.

While looking for Whitman, police said searchers found the Paines' vehicle over a hillside near Bigley Road and the Toby Creek Bridge, and also found the Paines.

Police said Whitman was found approximately 100 feet above the Toby Creek Bridge on Bigley Road.

Clarion County Coroner Dan Shingledecker said Samuel and Lucille Paine likely died not long before their bodies were discovered.

Shingledecker said an autopsy is being done "to see if the crash killed them or the elements killed them."

Shingledecker said he is conducting a toxicology report on Whitman, and he does not suspect foul play in any of the three deaths.

Clarion University President Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, in a message to the university community reporting Whitman's death, said the school is offering counseling for those in need of additional support.

Police are continuing their investigations.