The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

July 22, 2013

Man's death considered suspicious

— SUNBURY — The case of a man found dead Sunday morning in the vicinity of South Front Street now is considered to have “suspicious circumstances,” Sunbury police said.

After the news broke about a body being discovered near 964 S. Front St., city police received several tips from residents that the body of J. Craig Landis, 33, of Selinsgrove, may have been dragged out of a house, neighbors said.

John “Bullwinkle” Wartz lives at the South Front Street home, police said, but they would not confirm where the body was discovered. Neighbors are saying Landis, who was employed by the New Cumberland Army Depot, was found in the back yard of the home.

Police said they have spoken with Wartz about the circumstances surrounding Landis’ death but would not release other information.

“We are working with the Northumberland County coroner’s office,” Police Chief Steve Mazzeo said. “There are suspicious details around this, and we are asking for the public’s help with anything they may know.”

City police are asking anyone who knows Landis or Wartz and was in the area Sunday to contact the department.

“Anyone with information should call us immediately,” Mazzeo said. “Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.”

Mazzeo would not say whether the death was drug-related, but said police have received information about the Greater Susquehanna Valley receiving lethal drugs.

“The word on the street is there could be bad heroin floating around the Valley,” he said. “We can’t confirm this, but we are receiving this information.”

An unknown male was found in a home in Northumberland last week, and a drug overdose was suspected, but no other information was released by police.

Earlier this month, Shamokin police said two people overdosed in a city apartment. Police were dispatched to 313 E. Sunbury St., where Joseph Witkowski, 26, of 622 Scott St., Kulpmont, and Jody Bower, 30, of 707 W. Chestnut St., Shamokin, were found on the bathroom floor.

Bower was unconscious and had a needle stuck in her arm, police said, while Witkowski was conscious and talking. Both were taken to a hospital for treatment, according to police.

Six bags containing heroin and the needle were recovered, Shamokin police said.

The possibility that Landis’ body was moved from a house was information that police would not discuss.

“This is an ongoing investigation,” Mazzeo said. “We are still gathering information, and we are conducting interviews.”

Northumberland County Coroner Jim Kelley was on vacation but said an autopsy was performed Monday at the Lehigh Valley Hospital, Allentown. Results are pending.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Sunbury officer Cory Zerbe or officer Brad Slack at (570) 286-4584 or 911.

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