Joseph Mastropole

Human remains identified in probable murder-suicide

HONESDALE, PA — The Wayne County coroner Edward Howell has issued a positive identification of the human remains found in Mount Pleasant Township Twp. on April 10.  The victim has been identified by DNA testing.  Howell's office said the victim was Joseph Mastropole, who lived at the house.

 A statement from Howell said, “Due to the compromised condition of the dismembered human remains at the time of discovery, circumstantial limitations have resulted in the ruling of the cause and manner of death to be undetermined.

“It is of important note that both the date and time of Mr. Mastropole's death is entirely based on the date and time the human remains were initially viewed and determined to be that of a human by this office. This is not a representation of a literal date and time of death.”

Police went to Joseph Mastropole's home in Mount Pleasant Township on April 10 to look for him and found a man there who claimed to be Mastropoles’ roommate. The man gave police a false name, but it was later learned that his name was Gaston Gomez. While looking for Mastropole, who was 54, they discovered a pole barn that contained a large marijuana growing operation and a burn barrel that was smoldering.

Police obtained a search warrant and heard a shot fired from inside the house when they returned. They later found that Gomez had shot and killed himself. Police also found other human remains in the house, and they found human remains in the burn barrel.

At a press conference the next day, District Attorney Janine Edwards said of the burn barrel, “It's smoldering and they kick it over with what is clear that bones come out. The wildlife and game commission has said these are not animal bones. Then inside the house, they see some things in the area and they find a freezer and inside the freezer are Hefty bags and inside the bags are body parts."


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