PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Investigators have traced the shocking murder of Wheeling Jesuit University student Kevin Figaniak to two transient pipeline workers who had been living in an RV park a few miles away.
They’re still looking for a third.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “Is he a pipefitter as well?”
Wheeling Police Det. Sgt. Gregg McKenzie: “That’s our understanding that he is in that industry.”
Arrested and charged with criminal homicide is Craig Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., and 24-year-old Jarret Chandler of Winnfield, La.
Until this past week, Peacock had been living in a trailer and Chandler had been living in another, members of a diverse community of oil and gas workers drawn to this region from around the country.
“Wherever the work’s at,” said Peggy Robinson, a worker. “That’s where we go.”
License plates in the RV parks are from Texas, Mississippi, Oregon and from Ohio where Robinson and her husband have come to weld pipelines — part of their own cross-country migration.
But she says most of the workers she encountered here and elsewhere are hard-working and law abiding.
“We don’t have any criminal history, speeding tickets anything. We don’t have any trouble with people at the campgrounds,” Robinson said.
Industry spokespeople say the murder while tragic is an isolated case. That even the number of transient gas and oil workers are far fewer that many perceive.
According to the Marcellus Shale Coalition, 96 percent of new hires in the industry last year came from within the five state Marcellus Shale region.
And until this murder, lead Det. Sgt. McKenzie said police have had few problems with the workers, if any.
“I think these guys come up here to work. The work – 12-hour shifts six, seven days a week. I don’t think they have time to go out,” he said.
Oil and gas workers KDKA spoke with who did not wish to appear on camera say they are shocked and saddened by these events, but they say the suspects are not representative of their community as transient and diverse as it may be.