Detectives: 'Anonymous' note left for guards results in discovery of shank at Westmoreland Prison




  • In US
  • 2022-01-18 01:03:00Z
  • By Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.

Jan. 17-An anonymous note left in a message box to guards at the Westmoreland County Prison led to the discovery of a makeshift weapon beneath a cell mattress, according to county detectives.

Inmate Anthony A. Bittinger, 22, of Jeannette, was charged last week with possessing instruments of crime, illegally making an offensive weapon and illegal possession of a weapon by an inmate by county Detective James Williams.

On Jan. 11, Bittinger was sentenced to serve up to a year in prison followed by five years of probation after pleading guilty to child endangerment and forgery charges filed by county sheriff's deputies last year. He has been an inmate at the Hempfield jail since August for violating terms of his release on $50,000 bond related to his arrest last summer on those complaints.

According to police reports, Bittinger and Jennie Wagner, 27, were found Aug. 11 inside a South Fourth Street apartment described as "filthy" by deputies serving a warrant and the pair was found to have crystal methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Two children were inside the home.

Bittinger also had 22 counterfeit $100 bills in his jeans pocket that led to the forgery charges, according to deputies. Wagner is still awaiting trial.

Williams alleges guards found a note last month marked "anonymous" that stated Bittinger had made a shank by sharpening the handle of a toothbrush and was hiding it inside his cell.

According to court documents, prison guards searched Bittinger's cell Dec. 26 and found the weapon under a mattress in the top bunk. Bittinger initially denied any knowledge of it being there, jail guards told Williams.

However, Williams said Bittinger admitted in a Jan. 8 interview "that shank was his."

Bittinger has not yet been arraigned on the new complaints, according to court dockets.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, ppeirce@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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