Man Convicted In ‘Kill For Thrill’ Murders Dies In Prison

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – One of the “kill for thrill” murderers has died on death row.

Michael Travaglia died Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, of natural causes that were the result of an illness, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

Travaglia and John Lesko were sentenced to death in 1981 for killing four people. The killing ended when some Pittsburgh Police detectives quickly got hot on their trail.

They were caught in Downtown Pittsburgh by a group of very observant detectives. One of them is now Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen.

“These guys were, obviously, very violent, and they really were very cocky,” said Sheriff Mullen.

The sheriff was a young, Pittsburgh city officer at the time, and a “rookie” at homicide investigations, but wanted to help look for clues. He wound up helping to capture the killers.

“I was with these veteran detectives, and I was fortunate to be with them,” said Sheriff Mullen.

According to Mullen, one of the other detectives noticed a man with a gun on the street.

“We were over by a car. He thought this guy had a gun on him. He did have a gun on him. He then told us that he got the gun from some people up in the Edison who had just killed a cop,” said Sheriff Mullen.

The cop turned out to be Apollo Police Officer Leonard Miller. He was 21-years-old and had only been on the job for three days.

“We looked in the firearm and I remember there were a couple spent casings in the firearm, which indicated that he had some credibility,” said Sheriff Mullen.

The detectives went to the Edison Hotel, hoping to find the men who killed Officer Miller.

“We went through the door where they were staying. Lesko had a firearm. He could have shot us. He didn’t shoot us. He threw the firearm down,” said Sheriff Mullen, who recovered Lesko’s gun. “I took the firearm from where he had pushed it down and tried to hide the firearm. They grabbed Travaglia. He was very cocky.”

The men also murdered Marlene Newcomer of Connellsville, William Nicholls of Mount Lebanon, and Peter Levato of Pittsburgh.

Travaglia died Monday morning at SCI Greene while on death row. He was 59-years-old.

Lesko is being held at SCI Graterford. He still on death row.

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