Tim McEnany: An Epilogue

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.

A young Tim McEnany, in a  Pennsylvania Justice Project photo

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.

Kathryn Bishop (right)

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:

Zeather Ababa
“He should have been given a sign to march in the street which says ‘I kill a old lady.'”

Joseph T.
“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 SAYMcENANY'S REASONING
Called victim's house twice to ensure coast was clearPolice seized his cell phone and fabricated call evidenceAuthorities were anxious to solve case
Left bar for long enough to commit crime and returnHe 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 polygraphResults can be manipulatedMother worked for prison system, has seen corruption
Admitted guilt by saying beer gets him in troubleHe only meant he should have gone home instead of to a barWife would be an honest alibi, unlike bar employees
Had paint chip in jacket, from basement windowPaint chip planted by policeWindow never opened until police opened it
Was guilty because of forensic evidencePolice did "Forensic Files" to bolster their credibilityPolice desperate to cover up injustice to McEnany
Got a fair trialTrooper Jack Lotwick drove jurors to and from court, thus had a chance to influence themLotwick used case to win the job of sheriff
Kicked Bishop to death, causing Reischman to flee her house in horrorWitness says fleeing man had long hairHe & cousin have short hair. Victim's grandson's is long
Beat Bishop severely in a rage killingRage killings are personal; he had no rage toward BishopMore likely that someone close to victim (like a relative) did it
Left fiber evidence from his T-shirt on victim's bodyLab scientist had doubts about fiber evidenceEven if fibers are from T-shirt, doesn't prove murder
Went to Atlantic City to spend stolen cashNothing — no mention of an Atlantic City trip on site
Got a fair portrayal on "Forensic Files""FF" hyped up evidence to win viewersShows 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 Callahan
“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.

Pete Shellem

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.

Tim McEnany’s Murder of Kathryn Bishop

A Chimney Sweep Plays Dirty
(“A Case of the Flue,” Forensic Files)

It seems odd that someone with a strong enough work ethic to wriggle down a 20-foot-tall tunnel and clean away soot would later that same day kill a homeowner and steal her cash for an easy payday.

Kathryn Bishop

Or maybe it’s because chimney sweep Tim McEnany and his cousin Andrew Reischman had labored so hard for the $300 fee Kathryn Bishop paid them that he decided burglary looked like a better pursuit.

As a YouTube viewer named lonehorseman09 put it so eloquently:

 “i owned a chimney sweeping business in western canada for 24 years and this is the type of lowlife you have working for you-fortunately for me nothing physical ever happened to any of my clients.”

Unlike the occasional Forensic Files episode that leaves viewers skeptical about the  guilt of the convicted ( Jim Barton), “A Case of the Flue” presents a straight trajectory from the incriminating evidence to Tim McEnany.

Bundles of joy. That doesn’t mean McEnany has accepted his fate, however. The inmate has an unusually extensive innocence website. I’ll report on that later. First, here’s a recap of “A Case of the Flue,” along with other information from internet research.

Kathryn I. Bishop, an 82-year-old widow, lived alone in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, near the state capital of Harrisburg.

She liked to use cash to pay for groceries and had about $6,000 neatly wrapped in circular bundles in a basket on her dining room table. But McEnany was paid by check after he and Reischman cleaned Bishop’s chimney on March 3, 1993.

The next day, Bishop’s daughter, Janet Seitz, stopped by to visit, only to find an ambulance in her mother’s driveway.

Puzzle left behind. Bishop had been beaten to death — kicked more than 60 times by an intruder the night before. Wounds on her arms suggested that the retiree had fought back.

“There was a lot of trauma,” Graham Hetrick, Dauphin County coroner, was quoted as saying in a March 7, 1993 account in the News Record, a North Hills newspaper. “It’s a real pathetic case.”

Police found a word puzzle and a broken pen near the body. They also discovered a receipt from Ace American Chimney Experts, Tim McEnany’s business.

Clean oilman. A neighbor  recalled seeing a man running from Bishop’s house the night before, but it was too dark to see his face.

Police started their investigation by questioning an oil company driver who had made a delivery to Bishop’s house on the day of her homicide. He had a solid alibi.

Timothy Patrick McEnany

Investigators turned their attentions to the duo from the chimney sweep outfit.

Tim McEnany and Andrew Reischman’s story about their whereabouts the night of Bishop’s death seemed shaky from the outset.

‘Wagers’ of sin. The two claimed they were drinking at Shane’s Flight Deck in Middletown all night, but bartenders recalled that they left and came back at one point.

Cellular One records from McEnany’s massive 1990s-era cell phone showed he made two calls to Bishop’s house that night, both of them unanswered.

Police believed he was checking to make sure she was either asleep or out.

But the burglary turned into a robbery-murder when he (and probably Reischman) discovered Bishop home and wide awake. She was hard of hearing and often didn’t notice the phone ringing, her daughter said.

Loyal cousin. Investigators theorized that McEnany spontaneously decided to kill her and, when Reischman saw the violence, he fled in horror out the side door, in view of the neighbor who reported the sighting.

But apparently, Reischman still returned to the bar with McEnany.

An informant told Patriot-News reporter Peter Shellem that McEnany, then a 26-year-old married father of two, and Reischman, 20, drove to Atlantic City after they left the bar for the night.

McEnany never implicated Reischman, however, and investigators didn’t find strong enough evidence to tie him to the crime. McEnany alone was charged with robbery, second degree murder, and conspiracy.

Investigators had found a paint chip in McEnany’s clothing and discovered it came from the area around Bishop’s basement window, suggesting McEnany entered the  house that way.

Little switcheroo. The defense team hired forensic scientist Skip Palenik to refute fiber evidence that investigators said tied McEnany’s black T-shirt to the murder scene.

But Palenik ended up agreeing with the prosecution’s theory — that the fiber evidence pointed to McEnany.

McEnany, who gave a semi-incriminating statement (“Every time I drink I get in trouble”) to the police upon his arrest, maintained his innocence throughout the trial.

On October 20, 1993, after deliberating for five hours, the jury found him guilty of robbery, conspiracy, and second-degree murder.

Chaos and histrionics. When the judge polled each jury member on every charge, McEnany had to hear the word “guilty” 48 times, which sent him over the edge, literally.

He screamed of injustice and tried to escape via a courtroom window.

Adept at scurrying through tight spaces, the 5-foot-8-inch-tall McEnany got halfway out before deputies dragged him back by the ankles, according to an account that appeared in the News-Press of Fort Myers, Florida (yes, the dramatics made news all the way from Pennsylvania to the Sunshine State).

He got life in jail without the possibility of parole.

Andrew Reischman never faced charges related to the case

Supporters persist. McEnany, who is now 51 years old, resides in Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution in Somerset along with 2,393 other inmates.

As mentioned, he does maintain a strong presence on the internet and clearly has some people convinced of his innocence. I’ll give his website a good read and also look for an epilogue on Reischman and discuss it in the next post.

Until then, cheers. RR


Update: Read Part 2