WEST DEER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Police continue to investigate after an older couple was found dead inside their West Deer Township home Thursday afternoon.

Authorities say they were called to the ranch-style house in the 100-block of West Starz Road just after 1:30 p.m.

A state police helicopter hovered low over the woods near the home of James and Carol Yeckel, both in their 70s, after a police dog picked up the scent of 52-year-old James Yeckel Jr.

“We’re asking for the public’s help in locating him,” said Lt. Andrew Schurman, of the Allegheny County Police. “We understand he has some mental health issues and is prone to walk and to walk great distances.”

The younger Yeckel is described as an avid outdoorsman. He is five-feet-11-inches tall and about 170 pounds.

Yeckel is not being called a suspect or a person of interest at this point. Police would only say they are trying to locate him.

He spent some time at his parents’ home from time to time and police say he’s the only family member who they haven’t contacted yet.

“We expanded our search to the tri-state area,” added Lt. Schurman.

Police removed several long guns from the Yeckel home Thursday evening. One is believed have been the murder weapon.

The couple was found on the first floor of the home.

“We’ve never been here for any types of incidents involving any family members,” said Chief Jon Lape, of the West Deer Police Department. “Quiet individuals by what we’ve gotten from the neighbors and very active around the house.”

Meanwhile, neighbors expressed shock and disbelief about the double murder.

“They are great people, and we always shared a lot and had a lot of fun together,” said Michael Ilyankoff, a neighbor.

Just down the street from the scene, Jim and Becky Schirdon expressed similar feelings.

“You hear it all the time – that it can’t happen in your neighborhood, but there it is,” Jim Schirdon told KDKA-TV.

Police say James Yeckel Jr. is likely on foot or on a bicycle. Anyone who sees him is being asked to call police.

Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office
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