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Westmoreland DA: Body believed to be missing Vandergrift woman was burned

posted Mar 23, 2017, 8:55 PM by Joseph Gray   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 8:56 PM ]

Chuck Biedka | Monday, March 13, 2017, 1:57 p.m.
Ronny Marie Cable.
Ronny Marie Cable
Ronny Cable

The remains believed to be a missing Vandergrift woman who was last seen on surveillance video with two men at a Wal-Mart was burned, the county's top prosecutor said Monday, providing a possible hint why authorities can't make a positive identification quickly.

Ronny Marie Cable, 34, hasn't been seen since Feb. 16, and authorities say they are almost certain that the body found last week in a remote wooded area in Derry is her. They have turned to a renowned forensics team from Mercyhurst College to help with the identification.

“I can confirm that the remains were burned,” Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck disclosed Monday, adding that the body was found in a snowy, wooded area off Strawcutter Road but “wasn't buried in the sense of a grave.”

Detectives are investigating the death as a homicide but haven't disclosed how the person might have been killed.

Peck declined to say what led detectives to search the remote lot. But he has said previously that the circumstances that led detectives to the site and items found there led them to believe the body was Cable.

Westmoreland County Coroner Ken Bacha, who is working with the Mercyhurst team, said a positive identification could take weeks because of what he said was the poor condition of the body.

Peck has said police have identified suspects in the case, but he hasn't elaborated.

He declined Monday to say if two men seen with Cable on the evening of Feb. 16 on surveillance cameras at the Wal-Mart in Harrison are the suspects. Police have not publicly identified the men.

Vandergrift police have said Cable was seen with the same men at her home on the night she went missing. All three left in a red Chevrolet car.

The last time a charge was made on Cable's bank account was the following night at a bar in a neighboring town. Police said she had not used her phone since Feb. 16.

Bacha said his staff has spent hours with the Mercyhurst team to discuss the remains and items that were found with it. Bacha said identification of the remains will be difficult.

“It will take a considerable amount of time. We will do the ID scientifically,” Bacha said.

That might include dental comparison to dental office records, possibly DNA, and examination of items found with the remains. Toxicology tests may be done as well, if that is possible.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or