Inside His Innocence Website
(“A Case of the Flue,” Forensic Files)
Last week’s post detailed chimney sweep Tim McEnany’s conviction for the murder of Kathryn Bishop, an 82-year-old who kept a lot of cash in her house.
He received life in jail without parole and is serving his sentence at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution in Somerset.
But there are two sides to every post-conviction story, and McEnany offers up his via the Pennsylvania Justice Project, which is the subject of this week’s post.
Site to see. I really didn’t want to find anything that seemed worthy of consideration on McEnany’s website. Forensic Files laid out the case so neatly in “A Case of the Flue,” and who can resist a little self-righteous disdain for anyone who would hurt an elderly widow?
While I still suspect that justice was already served in this case, McEnany and his supporters do offer some intriguing counterpoints, including one rather explosive theory, via the Pennsylvania Justice Project.
A review of McEnany’s website follows, but first here’s a superquick recap of the crime as portrayed in Forensic Files:
Kathryn Bishop, a retiree who lived alone, employed Tim McEnany and his cousin Andrew Reischman to clean the chimney in her house in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, on March 3, 1993.
That afternoon, they completed the job without incident and received payment by check.
Saltwater and slots. Over a beer at Shane’s Flight Deck that evening, the duo allegedly decided to return to Bishop’s house, quickly burglarize it, then establish an alibi by going back to the watering hole before anyone noticed they had left.
The part that didn’t go as planned was finding Bishop at home and awake. She was beaten to death, and the $6,000 she kept in a basket on her dining room table was stolen.
Afterward, McEnany — a married 26-year-old with two small children — and Reischman returned to the bar and then headed to Atlantic City for some recreation, according to prosecutors.
McEnany doesn’t have a lot of supporters on YouTube, judging from reader comments to A Case of the Flue:
“He should have been given a sign to march in the street which says ‘I kill a old lady.'”
“Murder just to take the money and piss it away, and give it to the Casino. Hope it was worth it, dumbass.”
With the Pennsylvania Justice Project, Father Francis-Maria Salvato — a priest who has taken up McEnany’s cause — hopes to disabuse the public of such unkind sentiments.
The innocence website includes nine long-form blog posts, a couple of them written by McEnany himself and the rest by Salvato. It also features audio interviews with McEnany’s mother.
Janet Callahan McEnany and Father Salvato’s most provocative contention is that the police should have investigated Kathryn Bishop’s grandson, Greg Seitz, in connection with the murder-robbery.
Treated like soot. According to the Pennsylvania Justice Project, Janet Seitz — who is Bishop’s daughter and Greg Seitz’s mother —and her husband visited Bishop while the chimney sweeps were at work. McEnany recalled the husband as pleasant and trusting, but he got some dubious vibes from Janet Seitz.
In her Forensic Files interview, Janet Seitz said she felt McEnany’s bill, between $300 and $400, seemed high.
I have to disagree. Even by 1993 standards, that sounds like a reasonable fee to have two people do work of that nature. (In addition to the cleaning, they did at least one repair to the chimney.)
Burned by media. It’s possible that some bias on Janet Seitz’s part influenced the investigation.
In one of the radio interviews, Tim’s mother said that concern about a bias toward her son spurred the McEnany family to decline media requests — including one from Peter Shellem, an investigative journalist known for helping wrongly convicted people win exoneration.
Without the benefit of having talked to the McEnany family, Shellem, who worked as a reporter for Harrisburg’s Patriot News, got the facts wrong when he appeared on Forensic Files, Janet McEnany alleges.
Charting it out. A couple of other theories the website brings up are less scintillating: that the police botched the crime scene investigation and that various law-enforcement parties used the case to win themselves promotions.
Not that those allegations are any less worthwhile to explore — it’s just that they’re pretty much standard among convicted people.
The following table boils down major points of contention detailed on the website:
|AUTHORITIES SAY THAT McENANY...||McENANY SUPPORTERS SAY||McENANY'S REASONING|
|Called victim's house twice to ensure coast was clear||Police seized his cell phone and fabricated call evidence||Authorities were anxious to solve case|
|Left bar for long enough to commit crime and return||He and Reischman never left the bar (Shane's Flight Deck)||Bar employees were guilty of serving a minor (Reischman), so they told police what they wanted to hear|
|Failed polygraph||Results can be manipulated||Mother worked for prison system, has seen corruption|
|Admitted guilt by saying beer gets him in trouble||He only meant he should have gone home instead of to a bar||Wife would be an honest alibi, unlike bar employees|
|Had paint chip in jacket, from basement window||Paint chip planted by police||Window never opened until police opened it|
|Was guilty because of forensic evidence||Police did "Forensic Files" to bolster their credibility||Police desperate to cover up injustice to McEnany|
|Got a fair trial||Trooper Jack Lotwick drove jurors to and from court, thus had a chance to influence them||Lotwick used case to win the job of sheriff|
|Kicked Bishop to death, causing Reischman to flee her house in horror||Witness says fleeing man had long hair||He & cousin have short hair. Victim's grandson's is long|
|Beat Bishop severely in a rage killing||Rage killings are personal; he had no rage toward Bishop||More likely that someone close to victim (like a relative) did it|
|Left fiber evidence from his T-shirt on victim's body||Lab scientist had doubts about fiber evidence||Even if fibers are from T-shirt, doesn't prove murder|
|Went to Atlantic City to spend stolen cash||Nothing — no mention of an Atlantic City trip on site|
|Got a fair portrayal on "Forensic Files"||"FF" hyped up evidence to win viewers||Shows like "FF" are tools of system|
Because this post includes negative reader comments about McEnany, it only seems fair to offer a couple from his supporters:
“Timothy McEnany is my cousin. … My cousin is innocent, a good man, and a good father. A travesty of justice has been committed by our broken legal system and as a result an innocent man is in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He is a victim, not a murderer.”
Darya Eudora Mace-Tasker
“I can remember this years ago and it didn’t make sense then! When reading the facts now, it TRULY is injustice!!! … There are so many wrongly put into the system because the system does not work!”
What about Reischman? While McEnany continues to serve his sentence in medium-security at SCI, Andrew Reischman has never faced charges related to Kathryn Bishop’s robbery or murder.
He did, however, run into a little trouble in North Carolina. From 1995 to 2000, an Andrew Vincent Reischman collected charges of DWI, marijuana possession, resisting arrest, and “assaults or threats against the government.”
The last offense is probably less severe than it sounds, because North Carolina records indicate he received probation for that misdeed as well as the others.
A web search for Pennsylvania and the surrounding states turned up no other brushes with the law for Reischman, who was born in 1972.
In other words, he got his act together before hitting 30.
Hero to the railroaded. On a sad note, Peter Shellem took his own life at the age of 49 in 2009.
Former O.J. Simpson lawyer Barry Scheck called Shellem “a rare, one-man journalism innocence project,” according to a New York Times story.
That’s all for this post. True Crime Truant will be off for New Year’s vacation — back on January 18.
Until then, cheers and good tidings for 2018. — RR
P.S. The links still work for 5 True-Crime Movies to Watch on YouTube Thanksgiving Weekend, so if you’d like a splash of true crime with your champagne, enjoy.