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Man charged with attempted drowning of Vandergrift boy

posted Aug 15, 2012, 12:07 PM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Aug 15, 2012, 12:14 PM ]
By Tom Yerace and Chuck Biedka
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012, 9:46 a.m.
Updated 5 hours ago

Matthew Silvis is only 4, but he wasn’t about to be quiet when he saw his pregnant mother being beaten by her boyfriend Monday.
Instead, he told it as he saw it, calling Edward J. Wisniewski, 29, a “bastard” and yelling at him to stop beating his mother, Melissa “Missy” Bailey, 20, of Emerson Street.

“My son said: ‘Let my Mommy up. You’re hurting my Mommy,’ ” Bailey said.
Police said Wisniewski, of 1171 Hancock Ave., who was drunk, responded by picking the boy up by his head and throwing him in a 4-foot deep, above-ground swimming po

That action led to him being charged with attempt to commit murder along with several other charges.

“He had me pinned to the ground up there,” Bailey said, motioning toward the backyard. “By the time I got up, my son was already in the pool.”

She said although Matthew, nicknamed “Pooh Bear” by his family, is tall enough to stand in the pool with his head above water, she was worried about how he landed when thrown into the pool. He went under water briefly.

Bailey said Wisniewski, who had been released from a state prison just five months ago, would not let her near the pool and pushed her down when she tried to get to it.

She said Wisniewski finally pulled the boy out of the pool.

According to a police report, Wisniewski told her, “You are lucky I even did that.”

Bailey managed to call her sister, Shauna Leasure, with whom she lives, on her cell phone. Leasure and her husband, Richard, who were visiting someone nearby, hurried to their Emerson Street house.

“She called me, and when I got here (Wisniewski) was chasing her down the alley there,” Shauna Leasure said.

Bailey said the incident, which police said occurred about 8 p.m., began when she questioned Wisniewski about whom he was texting on his phone, suspecting that it was another woman.

She said that set him off and he threw her down on a chair and began hitting and choking her.

Richard Leasure said he became involved when they arrived on the scene and Wisniewski took a swing at his wife as she called the police.

Police said Leasure claimed that Wisniewski threatened to get a shotgun and blow his head off.

“I chased him down the street, he slipped on some rocks and I caught up to him and hit him, and that’s when the cops came,” Leasure said.

Bailey, who is five months pregnant, said she felt sore on Tuesday but was concerned about her unborn child. She said she had not felt any movement from the baby and planned to get a medical check-up. She said Matthew wasn’t hurt but was shaken by what happened.

The Leasures and Bailey said they knew Wisniewski for eight years. They hadn’t known him to become violent but said he changed when he got drunk. Bailey said he had never hit her son before.

According to court records, Monday’s incident is the second time that Wisniewski has been charged with attempted homicide.

Records show he faced that charge in a 2006 Vandergrift case for allegedly trying to rob three young teens of marijuana and money. When they resisted, he allegedly squeezed the trigger on a pistol he was pointing, but the poorly maintained pistol didn’t fire.

That attempted homicide charge was dropped when Wisniewski pleaded guilty to robbery in 2007. He was sentenced to serve five-to-10 years in a state prison, according to a state corrections official.

After about 5½ years, he was paroled to a halfway house in Pittsburgh on April 12, the official said.

Wisniewski’s criminal history stretches to 2002. He has served short sentences for theft, receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, Wisniewski was arraigned on charges of reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, simple assault, terroristic threats, public drunkenness and intimidation of witnesses.

The intimidation charge was added after Bailey and Richard Leasure informed police that Wisniewski told them he would pay them to lie about the incident so he would not go back to jail. Wisniewski is on parole.

Allegheny Township District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec and ordered him sent to the Westmoreland County jail in lieu of bond pending a preliminary hearing.

Tom Yerace and Chuck Biedka are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Yerace can be reached at 724-226-4675 or Biedka can be reached at 724-226-4711 or