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Detectives continue probe of stabbing of ex-prosecutor

Saturday, October 05, 2002

By Cindi Lash, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Pittsburgh detectives yesterday showed photographs of possible suspects in other crimes to former homicide prosecutor W. Christopher Conrad but made no arrests in the knife attack reported by him on Thursday in Oakland.

Police said they met again with Conrad and showed him an array of photos assembled by officers who have investigated robberies and other crimes in the neighborhood. But they declined comment on whether Conrad identified any of the people in the photographs as resembling the men who he said attacked and stabbed him in the 300 block of McKee Place, near Bates Street.

Detectives from the Squirrel Hill station, who are investigating the case, said they are treating it as a robbery but said they had "no new developments" yesterday. Conrad, 53, of Upper St. Clair, did not respond to repeated requests for comment yesterday.

Conrad, a former Allegheny County deputy district attorney as well as a prosecutor in Greene County, reported that he was assaulted around 9 a.m. Thursday, just after he'd gotten out of his 2002 Ford Explorer and was walking to a doctor's appointment in Oakland. He said two men in their 30s approached him, tried to take the keys to his sport utility vehicle and then attacked him.

One of the men hit him in the face and the other hit him from behind, Conrad said. He said he fought back and punched one of his assailants in the face after that man -- described as heavy, with reddish-brown hair and a "chin strap" beard -- slashed his chest with a knife with a three-inch blade.

Conrad said he also was gashed in the face before he was struck on the head and fell. After blacking out for a time, he said, he came to and found he had been stabbed in the abdomen.

A woman who works nearby found him on the ground and helped to stanch the bleeding from his stomach wound. Conrad said he doesn't remember getting back into his car, even though police found it locked and with blood inside it when they arrived.

His wallet was found nearby and his Rolex watch remained on his wrist. Conrad, who was treated at UPMC Presbyterian, said he believed his attackers were scared off before they could steal his watch or car.

Thursday's attack is the second such incident reported by Conrad in two years. In May 2000, he told police he was sitting in a vehicle at a Downtown traffic light when a man came up to him, confirmed his identity and stabbed him in the arm and face.

Police never found any witnesses or suspects, did not arrest anyone, and even questioned Conrad about reports that he had bought the knife used in the attack at a nearby store. He denied the stories.

Conrad said Thursday that he recognizes that people might be skeptical about him reporting two such attacks in two years, but denied that he inflicted his wounds himself or was involved in some sort of domestic dispute.

Cindi Lash can be reached at clash@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1973.

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