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Article published January 16, 2013

Owner of truck repair shop shot to death

Jim Smith
Butler Eagle

FORWARD TWP — Major case investigators spent the weekend hunting for evidence inside a business and at the home of a township man found dead late Friday night of a homicide at his truck repair shop.

State police were specifically looking for a .30-30 rifle that Robert C. “Bob” Gaurrich kept at Bob’s Truck and Auto Repair on Route 68.
That same rifle, which turned up missing during an initial search of the business Saturday, may have been used to kill the 45-year-old Gaurrich, according to investigators.
“We did not find that rifle,” said Lt. Steve Ignatz of the state police crime unit on Monday.
He declined to discuss if police have any suspects in the killing.
“There are a number of avenues we’re looking at right now,” Ignatz said.
Gaurrich’s body was found face down in a pile of stone outside his repair garage about 11 p.m. Friday.
An autopsy Saturday determined he died of a single gunshot wound to the upper chest, said Butler County Deputy Coroner Larry Barr. The autopsy ruled the death a homicide.
Police recovered a .30-30 caliber shell casing on the ground near a door at the east side of the 100-foot-long-by-50-foot-wide building that houses the truck garage.
A blood trail led from that door to Gaurrich’s body, police said.
Investigators suspect he was shot inside his business and died outside.
“There did not appear to be any forced entry into the business,” Ignatz said.
The building, owned by Skander Tire next door, has several bay doors and other doors on different sides.
Gaurrich’s girlfriend, Jessica L. Hoover, told police that she became worried when she returned to the couple’s home in the 900 block of Brownsdale Road about 9 p.m. Friday and he was not there.
She drove the barely one mile to the business and went inside. She got there around 9:15 p.m., she said, and left some 15 minutes after not finding Gaurrich.
Hoover drove back home, police said, but soon returned to the business just after 9:45 p.m. Investigators believe she was wearing different clothes and shoes when she went there the second time.
Police would not say why she changed clothes.
Hoover has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Ignatz said police have interviewed her but would not say if she was a suspect or a person of interest in the case.
Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger said police investigators were to review with one of his assistants the status of the probe, during an initial briefing Monday at the barracks.
Hoover told police she called a friend after she returned to the shop a second time but still could not find her boyfriend.
It was Hoover’s friend, police said, who found the body. Hoover immediately called 911. A report from the Butler County Communication Center indicated that call, which was logged at 11:15 p.m., came in as an “injured person.”
Minutes later, police were notified that a body had been discovered outside the business.
Emergency responders including the Evans City Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched. Paramedics determined the man was dead.
An exam of the body revealed what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the right chest area.
Police later identified the victim, who was dressed in a dark jacket, dark work-type pants and black boots.
Police did not immediately know when Gaurrich was shot and when he died.
Ignatz said that because the shop was not burglarized and since Gaurrich did not appear to have any defensive-type wounds, the victim may have known his killer.
Investigators searched the truck and car repair shop and seized evidence that included computers, business records, suspected drug paraphernalia and the .30-30 caliber casing.
Police believe Gaurrich was trying to sell his .30-30 rifle that he had at his shop. The search failed to turn up that gun.
Later Saturday, police searched the two-story house, tan with green shutters, where Gaurrich and Hoover lived.
Investigators said they went to the home looking for, in part, any guns as well as the clothes that Hoover was wearing Friday.
In addition to looking for the missing rifle, police searched the house for any ammunition that matched the spent casing found at the business.
Police, meanwhile, also scoured the home for business records that could aid their investigation. Investigators acknowledged that Gaurrich possibly had financial issues related to his shop.
Police declined to say what they found during a search of the house.
Investigators are also keeping tight-lipped about what — if anything — was captured by a surveillance camera outside the business.
The camera, which was working Friday night, was pointed toward the shop’s parking lot looking toward Route 68.
Gaurrich’s sister on Monday said she was at a loss to see how this could have happened.
“I just honestly don’t know why anyone would do this,” said Gayle Blackwood of Butler. “He would give the shirt off his back to anybody.”
She said her brother even would arrange payment schedules for those who could not immediately pay for vehicle repairs.

Eagle staff writer Sandy Pontius contributed to this report.