PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions


Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

Drifter confessed to killing of Dormont shop owner, police say

Saturday, October 27, 2001

By Dan Gigler and Don Hopey, Post-Gazette Staff Writers

A drifter who had once accepted handouts from a well-known Dormont bookstore owner was arrested yesterday and charged with her fatal beating.

Curtis D. Coulson is led away from the Allegheny County Coroner's Office yesterday. He was charged with homicide in the death of bookstore owner Ann Schmidt, 58, of Dormont. (John Heller, Post-Gazette)

Curtis D. Coulson, 55, was charged with homicide in the death of Ann Schmidt, 58, of Dormont. Schmidt was found on the evening of Oct. 5 in her Potomac Avenue store, The Book Rack, beaten to death with a metal stake.

Police said Coulson admitted the killing when he was apprehended yesterday in Braddock.

The killing, the first in Dormont since 1989, stunned the South Hills community. Shopkeepers in the Potomac Avenue business district where the killing occurred were relieved and happy yesterday evening as news of the arrest spread.

"Everyone has just been afraid, so this arrest is just wonderful news and a great relief," said Trudy Hollatz, who has managed Knossos Gyros & Sis-Kabob, a restaurant owned by her daughter, for seven years.

She said many of the shop owners recognized Coulson from the police composite sketch and everyone was on alert.

"I hope they throw the book at him," Hollatz said, her lower lip quivering. "Because you could never meet a nicer lady."

Amy Mokricky, who moved her shop, MoonStones, from Mt. Lebanon to Potomac Avenue eight months ago, heard about the arrest on a merchants' phone chain set up in the days following the killing.

"I got a call just before 6 p.m. and started calling other people, including my mother-in-law, who's been worried about me, and my husband. It's just a huge relief they got this guy," said Mokricky, whose sister, Susan Jill Creighton, was murdered in Carnegie in 1994.

"It was a joyous occasion when my sister's murderer was arrested, and it's a shame a family is put in that situation, but I can imagine how good this must make them feel."

"We're relieved for the community's sake," Dormont police Sgt. Gary Scheimer said. "There has been a lot of fear in our business district because this is not the type of crime that usually occurs there."

Frequently a resident in local homeless shelters, Coulson, who is originally from Jeannette, emerged as a suspect after investigators interviewed local shop owners. Police began circulating a composite sketch of Coulson and a photograph was released to police and the news media.

Allegheny County detectives who were looking for another suspect yesterday in Braddock spotted a man coming out of a bar around 3:10 p.m. near South Braddock Avenue and Third Street.

When police began questioning him, Coulson admitted his role in the slaying, detectives said. He did not offer a motive.

Coulson told police he was homeless and drifted from town to town to panhandle. He said he did not know Schmidt but had gotten money from her before.

Scheimer said Coulson frequented the Dormont business district.

"He was known in the Broadway Avenue corridor and we had a warrant for him for a burglary on Connecticut Avenue," Scheimer said.

Coulson was also wanted for a parole violation and for a recent North Braddock burglary.

Coulson's preliminary hearing on the homicide charge is scheduled for Nov. 8.

KDKA-TV contributed to this report.

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy