Pittsburgh Tribune Review



Connellsville Man Charged In '93 Murder


Arrest the result of cold-case homicide unit


By Paul Peirce and Diana Stricker





A state police unit trained to tackle old cases on Thursday arrested a former Connellsville Area football star in connection with a 1993 homicide.


Troy E. "Cheetah" Mickens, 31, of 409 Highland Ave., Connellsville, was charged with criminal homicide for allegedly shooting Randall Lee Jordan, 33, sometime between Jan. 7 and Feb. 11, 1993.


The partially decomposed body of the Connellsville man was discovered lying facedown in a rural field in Dunbar Township. He had been shot six times.


Mickens was arraigned before Dunbar District Justice Dwight Shaner and placed in the Fayette County Prison without bond.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday before Shaner.


A motive for the shooting was not disclosed in court documents filed yesterday. However, Mickens' arrest was the result of work by a cold-case homicide unit.


Police notified the Jordan family of the arrest yesterday morning.


"I didn't hardly believe it," said Jordan's aunt, Mary Jordan. "I was patient and waiting."


Mary Jordan, who raised Randall and his sister, Linda, in her East End Road home in Connellsville, said she was relieved to hear about the arrest after so many years.


"I was hoping, but you just never know, after it went so long," she said of the investigation. "I think it will give me and the whole family peace of mind. It's never going to bring him back, but it does put it to rest."


She said police spoke with her in October, shortly after she returned home from heart surgery.


The cold-case homicide unit was formed in October to investigate more than 40 unsolved deaths throughout the Troop B region based in Washington.


According to the arrest affidavit, the break in the case came when Trooper Daniel J. Venick contacted people interviewed during the initial investigation in 1993.


The affidavit said two Fayette County residents, Tonya Renee Price and Brian Harbarger, told Vinick recently that Mickens confided in them that he shot Jordan. Neither Price nor Harbarger could be reached for comment, and Venick did not disclose their relationship with Mickens.


Mary Jordan said her nephew was acquainted with Mickens, but she did not elaborate.


Jordan, also a Connellsville Area graduate, was employed by Local 1058 of the Construction, General Laborers and Material Handlers Union based in Pittsburgh.


"He worked all the time," said Mary Jordan, adding that her nephew also enjoyed hunting, fishing and gardening.


"Randy had lots of friends," she recalled.


His aunt reported him missing Jan. 19, 1993, after he borrowed her car Jan. 5 and failed to return home. The car was later found on 12th Street in Connellsville.


Venick, a member of the cold-case unit, has been the lead investigator in the homicide since Jordan's body was discovered Feb. 11, 1993, in State Game Lands No. 51 along Camp Carmel Road in Dunbar Township.


He declined to disclose whether Price or Harbarger changed their stories or simply provided more information.


However, Venick did stress the importance of the cold-case unit.


"Our captain, Frank Monaco (who heads Troop B), is the one who got the cold-case unit up and running. I think he saw a need for it because, with some of these cases, if you don't solve them right away, they get put on the shelf and begin gathering dust," Venick said.


Jordan's body was discovered by Jeffrey Kostelac, a civil engineer with the state Department of Environmental Resources' Bureau of Mine Reclamation, who was in the area to survey rock formations.


According to an arrest affidavit filed by Venick, Jordan's fully clothed body was found next to a tree. Police said .380-caliber shell casings were recovered near the body.


Authorities said they believed Jordan's body had been there for several days.


An autopsy performed in February 1993 by Allegheny County Coroner Cyril Wecht determined that Jordan died from six gunshot wounds to the shoulder, back, chest and abdomen.


Authorities familiar with the probe said Mickens has long been a suspect in the case.


Mickens was a star defensive back for his high school football team and also played basketball in the 1980s. He attended Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., and was once considered a possible National Football League prospect.


However, Mickens never made it to the NFL and returned to Connellsville.


During the 1990s, Mickens' name was linked to shootings and drug arrests in Fayette and Westmoreland counties.


Mickens is awaiting trial in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court on charges of possessing with intent to deliver 17 rocks of crack cocaine totaling 5 grams.


The drugs were found in a car Mickens was using when he visited his probation officer in Hempfield Township Aug. 30.


Westmoreland County records show Mickens was sentenced to one to two years in prison on Dec. 8, 1997, for a series of four drug arrests dating to 1995.


Mickens had been on parole since his release from prison in May.


In 1994, Mickens was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital after he was shot in the face in Connellsville.


In June 1993, Mickens was arrested by Connellsville police for allegedly assaulting three people in the city, one of whom was hit on the head with a beer bottle. Reports said Mickens had to be subdued by several police officers.


Staff writer Joe Mandak also contributed to this report.


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