Authorities have taken Eric M. Kortz, 53, of Pittsburgh into custody and charged him with Thursday’s murder of a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman said the criminal complaint was filed in federal court in Pittsburgh. Kortz was expected to make an initial appearance before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia R. Eddy 5 p.m. Thursday. He will likely be held without bond pending further criminal proceedings.
The complaint alleges that earlier Thursday, postal inspectors and local law enforcement were informed that a shooting had occurred in Collier Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Investigators arrived on scene to see the victim of the shooting, Louis Vignone (“Vignone”) dead inside his marked U.S. Postal Service vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of multiple gunshot wounds, including one to the head. At the time of the shooting, Vignone was wearing his USPS uniform and working his shift as a letter carrier. Investigators found a firearm and seven spent shell casings in a yard near his vehicle.
Shortly after the shooting, Kortz arrived at the Carnegie Borough Police Department, where he stated that he shot someone and wanted to turn himself in. Kortz subsequently was transported to the Allegheny County Police Department Headquarters.
At the Allegheny County Police Headquarters, U.S. Postal Inspector Erik J. Bohin and Allegheny County Police Detective Patrick Kinavey interviewed Kortz.
The interview was audio and video recorded. During the interview, Kortz informed investigators that he shot Vignone because he believed that Vignone and Vignone’s family had poisoned him and his family with cyanide while Vignone and Kortz previously were neighbors.
Kortz informed Investigators that Kortz was aware of where Vignone worked. Kortz stated that he located Vignone on his mail route, drove his vehicle toward Vignone’s USPS vehicle, and stopped in front of the vehicle to stop Vignone. Kortz then stated that he “went to put some bullets in him,” referring to shooting Vignone. Kortz stated that he then dropped the firearm at the scene, got into his van, and drove to the Carnegie Borough Police Department.
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of life imprisonment or death for the offense.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Allegheny County Police Department, and the Collier Township Police Department.