A Priest Was Kidnapped in Suburban Pittsburgh

Associated Press
June 8, 1982

A priest was kidnapped in suburban Pittsburgh, thrown in the trunk of his car and dumped 225 miles away along a West Virginia highway early Tuesday but was unhurt after the five-hour ordeal, authorities said.

Police said the Rev. David Dzermejko, 33, was waiting at a stop light near St. Teresa's Roman Catholic Church in Ross Township, Pa., when two men abducted him at gunpoint.

The priest was found about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday on Interstate Highway 79 in the rugged Elkview area north of Charleston, Sgt. D.E. Drennen of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department said.

"Luckily he was uninjured. He was very, very emotionally upset," Drennen said.

Dzermejko's abductors made off with the priest's car, $200 in cash, his identification and his credit cards. The priest's Lincoln Continental was found abandoned nearly 12 hours later in Wheeling, W.Va.

"They commandeered his car and locked him in the trunk at about 9:30 last night," Drennen said. "He was tied up with TV cable. They released him _ well, they threw him out of the vehicle _ in the Elkview area, and he was able to free himself."

Drennen said Dzermejko flagged down a West Virginia Department of Highways courtesy car after untying his hands.

The abductors were armed with at least one handgun, Drennan said.

The Rev. Jene Liberatore, Dzermejko's co-pastor at St. Teresa's, said the kidnapping occurred shortly after an installation ceremony at the church Monday night.

"He was going home to his parents in Braddock, Pa., and was going to take the next day off," Liberatore said."

Liberatore said he knew of no one who might bear a grudge against Dzermejko.

Pennsylvania State Police in Pittsburgh said Dzermejko serves as unofficial chaplain of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge there.

Drennen said state police took Dzermejko back to Pennsylvania after determining that he was unhurt. Police, church officials and the priest's family declined to say where he was staying Tuesday night.


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