WASHINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) — A Washington County man accused of trying to kidnap children playing in their yard was ordered to stand trial during a hearing Wednesday.
On a warm August evening just before 9, the Gillespie children were playing tag in the backyard of their Canton Township home on Wilmington Avenue when a man drove into the alley in a black Chevy pick-up and began talking to 10-year-old Jasmine.
“And next he said, ‘I lost my dog, can you help me find it?’” she said.
The child told police 55-year-old Jerry Linn Zgorliski, offered them candy, and then got out of his truck, chasing the kids, who ran into the house, and told their parents.
Zgorliski was held for court Wednesday on charges of attempted kidnapping and child luring.
“He was very emotional. You were in there. He keeps saying I didn’t do this,” said his defense attorney, Komron Maknoon.
Before testifying, Jasmine was first asked, by a Washington County assistant district attorney whether she understood the difference between truth and a lie? She answered yes.
There were a few discrepancies between her testimony and that of the arresting state trooper.
A friend of Zgorliski’s says she saw him at home at the time of the alleged incident, and that investigators never interviewed her.
“That it happened at 8:54 [p.m.],” she said. “Well, he was at home.”
It took state police only 20 minutes to arrest Zgorliski at the trailer where he was living.
They found the truck engine still warm and drove him back to the Gillespie home for identification. His attorney questions how accurate the ID was.
“He was identified while in handcuffs in the backseat of a state police car at night when it was dark with an overhead light on,” said Maknoon.
In the ‘90s, Zgorliski had a couple of brushes with the law – one for involuntary deviate sexual assault. But those charges were dropped.
Because of his concerns over Zgorliski’s previous criminal record, and the fact that the children live only a few blocks away from his home, the judge decided to let his bond remain at $1 million.
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