Are Burglary Arrests Connected With Thanksgiving Homicide?

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NANTICOKE -- Police in Luzerne County said work on a homicide case that left the community in shock has led them to two burglars.

Officers involved in the Gertrude Price investigation discovered evidence that led to arrests of two men accused of a separate burglary in Nanticoke.

It allegedly happened the same night the 97-year-old woman was killed during a home invasion.

The arrests have neighbors wondering if there is a connection.

Ever since Gertrude Price was beaten to death Thanksgiving night during a home invasion, neighbor have wondered if police would crack the case.

Work on the Price case lead detectives to Earl Hoopingarner and Shane Hempel, who are accused of a separate Thanksgiving night burglary just a few blocks from Price's house.

Police said they discovered Hoppingarner, 28, was using a stolen credit card.

"He used to clean out houses, but I didn't know they would break into them," said Monique Shiffka.

Shiffka said she is familiar with both the accused men and the burglary victim

"That's just crazy that that would happen," said Shiffka.

Her family collects Toys for Tots donations, and had been living in fear their home was a target.

"It feels a lot safer, then what it was before knowing someone could break in my house and try to kill me," explained Shiffka.

Back on East Grand Street where Gertrude Price lived, Hank Novak had just one question for the accused men.

"Number one question is, how bout that one, did you hurt the lady in there, see what they will say," said Novak.


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