New Castle News

August 24, 2013

Coroner rules on shooting death of May’s Donuts owner

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The Lawrence County Coroner has ruled that the owner of May’s Donuts was killed about seven hours before police discovered his body.

Coroner Russell S. Noga said yesterday that he estimated 7 p.m. Wednesday as the time of death for Charles Burrelli.

Police were informed around 2 a.m. Thursday of a possible homicide at a Union Township warehouse.

The body of Burrelli, 52, of 5 Fruitland Drive was found in a Jeep Cherokee at the scene.

His son, Michael Burrelli, 28, of the same address, has been charged by state police with criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.

He is in the Lawrence County jail without bond.

Noga said the body was in a bin that had been loaded into the Jeep, the vehicle’s engine was running and Michael Burrelli was standing in front of the Jeep when police arrived.

Noga said the official cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds to the body. He noted that Charles Burrelli had been shot seven times. Most of the wounds were to the left chest and side. The death has been ruled a homicide.

Noga said an autopsy was performed at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Beaver Medical Center by Dr. Abdulrezak Shakir, an associate medical examiner of Allegheny County. He noted that Dr. James Smith, the facility’s  pathologist who usually performs autopsies, was not available.

He said he estimated the time of death based on autopsy findings and statements made by Michael Burrelli to police.

Noga said he was called to the West State Street location at 2:28 a.m. Thursday. He said he arrived at 2:41 a.m. and pronounced Burrelli dead at the scene at 2:50 a.m.

He said he was told that Michael Burrelli had called a friend to help him early Thursday morning.

“The friend called 911 about 2 a.m. and reported a possible murder at the warehouse,” Noga said. A Union Township officer, not knowing what he would find, called for backup. “Neshannock Township police came as a back up.”

Police said Burrelli admitted to the shooting, used bleach to clean up the crime scene and had planned to dispose of the body at Moraine State Park.

Charles Burrelli and his son took over May’s Donuts, its name and its recipes in 2009 when the former owners, the May family, sold it after 68 years. Burrelli and his son were operating the business at 1225 E. Washington St. together. They also have a shop on Wilmington Road.