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Identity & Community

Bodies Of Missing Pittsburghers Found In West Virginia River

Two unrelated missing persons cases were solved when the bodies of the men each surfaced separately downstream in a river in West Virginia in recent days — with the death of one of the Pittsburgh men now being treated as a homicide, police said.

The cases of Andre Gray, 34, and Paul Kochu, 22, aren't related, except by the coincidence that their bodies each surfaced in the Ohio River in recent days, likely because of the spring thaw, city police Cmdr. RaShall Brackney said at a Thursday night news conference. Bodies can remain submerged for weeks or months when rivers are icy or the water is near freezing, but rise to the surface as temperatures warm.
Gray's body was found floating near a barge Wednesday along the shoreline of Follansbee, West Virginia.

The chief medical examiner's office in Charleston, West Virginia, determined he died of a gunshot wound. About two hours after the news conference, at which Gray's family pleaded with the killer to come forward, police announced they were charging 30-year-old Hubert Wingate with the killing.

Wingate was already in the Allegheny County Jail on other charges. Police haven't said how they linked Wingate to Gray's killing, and a criminal complaint wasn't to be publicly available until after he was arraigned later Friday. Wingate has been jailed since Pittsburgh police picked him up on an assault warrant out of Colorado and separately charged him with having a concealed gun on Feb. 21, court records show.

Victoria Gray-Tillman, the victim's mother, has told police she found his apartment was disheveled and that she found blood on his bed sheets and another blood stain beneath a bottle of bleach.

"It's a mother's worst nightmare, their child being out there and it's the not knowing," she said at the police news conference.

Kochu's body, meanwhile, was found March 20 near Wheeling, West Virginia, Brackney said.

Kochu was reported missing after he left a Pittsburgh bar with friends about 1:45 a.m. on Dec. 16. Surveillance video showed him walking near a supermarket near his apartment about an hour later, but he's not been seen since.

Wheeling police say the preliminary results of an autopsy, also by the medical examiner in Charleston, show he drowned. But Brackney said Kochu's cause of death was still being investigated until the "full autopsy" is complete, meaning the pending results of toxicology and other laboratory tests run on his remains.