WEST HOMESTEAD (KDKA) — A woman who grew up in West Homestead reacted with disbelief after learning one of her longtime neighbors had been murdered overnight.
Heather Truong grew up on West 7th Avenue. Her parents still live in the same house a few doors down from the home where police said 83-year-old Walter Smith was killed by a man who was living in his home.
“I have seen him walk by my house a lot. When I go to school, I see him and say hello to him. He was a really nice guy,” Truong told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti. “I was shocked by the news when I heard he got killed by his tenant.”
First responders found Smith’s body at the bottom of a staircase with a large gash on the side of his head.
Dominic Anicola, 57, is in the Allegheny County Jail, charged with homicide in the early Saturday morning death of Smith, who was his landlord.
Anicola lived in an upstairs room at Smith’s West 7th Avenue home in West Homestead.
Anicola’s confrontation with his landlord are detailed in a police criminal complaint. He told investigators he arrived back at his small apartment Friday night. He said that Smith had him illegally involuntarily committed to Western Psych.
When he finally got back in his room, he noticed some of his CDs were missing, so he confronted Smith.
Anicola explained the two men “got in a fight,” and he admitted he punched Smith in the face and struck him with his stick, which police described as a 3-foot axe handle.
He said the two of them fell over the railing onto the ground floor about 5 feet below.
A witness told police that he heard Smith yelling, “Please don’t do this, please don’t do this.” The witnesses said he heard Anicola shout, “I’m going to hurt you.” That was followed by the sound of a large thud.
Sources said it was not unusual for Smith to take in boarders.
KDKA-TV learned that, at one time, Smith worked for the borough, employed as a parking meter enforcer.