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Found body is missing Pa. man

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Report: Suspect has ties to Lancaster Count

By Chris Sardelli

The search for a missing Pennsylvania man officially ended Wednesday after an autopsy confirmed the identity of a body found in a creek bed off Mount Carmel Road earlier this week.

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The remains of Joseph DeVivo, 87, from Stroud Township, Pa., were positively identified following an autopsy conducted early Wednesday morning, according to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office press release. 

Lancaster County and Pennsylvania authorities attended the autopsy.

A retired East Stroudsburg, Pa., elementary school teacher, DeVivo had been missing from his Pocono Mountains home for at least 19 days. 

He was last seen on the evening of Feb. 23 after his caregiver dropped him off at his Jodi Drive home, according to the Pocono Record, a newspaper serving DeVivo’s community. 

His family reported DeVivo missing two days later.

Rico Mandrell Herbert, 31, is a 1998 graduate of Buford High School.

Herbert was arrested Feb. 25 by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers, after  he was found driving DeVivo’s stolen 2012 Chevrolet Malibu, according to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office incident report. 

Investigators from all three agencies were led to the body after conversations with Herbert, the report said. 

The search

Lancaster County sheriff's investigators have been working the case ever since receiving a 

call for assistance from Pennsylvania's Stroud Area Regional Police on March 1. 

Based on GPS evidence gathered from DeVivo's stolen car, detectives learned the car had been driven to two different locations in Lancaster County before Herbert's arrest, the incident report said. The two locations included an area along Lynwood Drive, as well as a spot west of Mount Carmel Road. 

Detectives said in the incident report that Herbert has family in Lancaster County and he also has a history of stealing cars from Lancaster and taking them to Pennsylvania. 

The investigation gained its most significant lead on March 12, following an interview between Herbert and a Stroud Area police detective at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center.

That detective called Lancaster County sheriff’s investigators to say Herbert told him he found DeVivo’s body in the trunk of the car during a trip to visit family in Lancaster County, the report said.

Herbert told investigators he dumped the body behind a vacant house in a wooded area off Mount Carmel Road, the report said.

Using directions relayed from Herbert over a phone, investigators from all three agencies searched Mount Carmel Road until they found the location. At the end of a long, dirt driveway, the team discovered human remains near a creek bed.

Sheriff’s office investigators said the remains appear to have been there for several weeks.

After news of the then-unidentified body was released Tuesday, DeVivo's family posted a message to Facebook. 

"Our main concern right now is to find and bring our father home where he belongs. We are waiting to hear if the body located in South Carolina is, indeed, our dad and grandfather,” the family posted, as reported by the Pocono Record. 

By Wednesday morning, the body was identified as DeVivo.

Lancaster County Chief Deputy Coroner Karla Deese said Wednesday she did not know the cause of death or the exact amount of time the body was in the wooded area.

“We do have him positively identified as Mr. Devivo, but the autopsy results are not available,” Deese said on Wednesday. “We have a lot of homework to do on this.”

At the time Deese did not know when the autopsy results would be complete.

“There’s a lot of detail to investigate with this one and it could be time consuming,” she said.

Charges 

So far, Herbert has been charged with receiving stolen property after he was found driving DeVivo's car. He also has an outstanding warrant from Monroe County, Pa., for failure to appear at sentencing.

As of Thursday afternoon, Herbert was still listed as an inmate at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center. The center's website lists two charges for Herbert, including resisting a public officer and a fugitive/extradition from other state charges. 

Information about further charges against Herbert or which jurisdiction takes precedence in the case were not available by The Lancaster News deadline Thursday afternoon. 

According to the S.C. Judicial Department public record website, Herbert is listed as a defendant in three cases between 2005 and 2006 in the 6th Judicial Circuit, which covers Lancaster County.

Two of the cases, both from February 2005, were traffic related. The third case, from January 2006, was criminal and involved a charge of grand larceny, $5,000 or more in value. In that case, Herbert pleaded guilty and received a one year suspended sentence and one year probation. He was also fined $628.75.

The investigation has so far involved members of the Monroe County District Attorney's Office, Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, Stroud Area Regional Police Department, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, Lancaster County Sheriff's Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Forensic Service Unit of the Pennsylvania State Police and Northeast Search and Rescue.

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information on the crime or those responsible to call them at (803) 283-4136 or contact Crimestoppers at 1-888-Crime SC (1-888-274-6372). You can also e-mail or text your anonymous tip at: www.midlandscrimestoppers.com.

 

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416