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Police hunt for answers among Pa. graves

Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 15, 2003

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - Pharmacist Michael Kerkowski's short run as one of northeastern Pennsylvania's biggest drug dealers ended in a shallow grave on a hillside littered with bodies.

The 37-year-old Kerkowski had been missing a year when his corpse was discovered June 5, buried along with the remains of his girlfriend behind the home of a one-time bank robber he had once called his best friend. The couple had been strangled.

Farther down the hill on the ex-convict's property, investigators also found the charred bones of at least three more people, whose identities are unknown.

The grisly discoveries surprised prosecutors, who had insisted for months that Kerkowski was on the lam to avoid being sentenced for selling hundreds of thousands of doses of the painkillers OxyContin, Vicodin and Lorcet to addicts who visited his shop north of Wilkes-Barre.

And after a week of digging, police are worried they have something bigger on their hands.

"Is this some sort of a dumping ground for bodies? We don't know," said state Trooper Martin Connors. "Will we find more? We don't know."

Authorities have refused to say why Kerkowski and girlfriend Tammy Fassett were killed.

Investigators have been trying to learn more about Kerkowski's entanglements in the months before his death, and his connection to Hugo Selenski, 29, who has been jailed since the corpses were discovered at his Kingston Township home.

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