Search for Possible Third Body After Standoff, Fire in Scranton

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SCRANTON, Pa. -- Two days after two bodies were removed from a house following a standoff with police and a fire, police and fire officials believe a third person is still unaccounted for.

Police said they were serving Alan Smith with two protection from abuse orders at his home on Washburn Street in west Scranton Saturday morning when he began setting clothing and furniture on fire and started shooting at police.

The house was destroyed as firefighters waited for police to tell them it was safe to fight the flames.

Two bodies were recovered Saturday, a man and a woman. Scranton police identified them as Alan Smith, 50, and his mother, Rosemary Smith, 72.

Police said Rosemary had been shot in the head and died before the fire. Her death has been ruled a homicide. Alan Smith died from breathing in smoke and burns. His death has been ruled a suicide.

Crews spent the day Monday looking for a third victim.

Sorting through what's left of the home, the Lackawanna County coroner and fire and police officials spent the day carefully and thoroughly looking for a possible third body.

"When we start to take the building down, we have to take it down and sift through the entire building to see if there's anything there, and that's going to be a long and drawn out process," Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright said.

At first, the focus Monday morning was mainly on the second floor of the home. Crews spent hours sorting through debris. After no luck, a cadaver dog was brought in to help, and the search extended to the first floor and basement.

Police believe a third person, Sister Angela Miller, was home at the time of the standoff and fire Saturday. Miller is Smith's aunt.

"The challenge for the dog is because there were bodies in there before, and now the wind is blowing. Even if the dog picks up a scent, there's nothing strong enough to indicate there's a body there," Courtright explained.

"Why didn't he just leave them alone and just take himself? Why did he have to do this?" asked Mary Tsakonas of Scranton.

"They were such wonderful women. They were the sweetest things ever. If they could, they would have given their shirts off their backs," added Tsakonas.

The mayor tells Newswatch 16 crews will need to regroup and start searching again Tuesday morning. This section of Washburn Street in west Scranton is back open for now.

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