Friends and family wonder why Marilyn Guthrie of Niles was on the South Side.
By KANTELE FRANKO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Police found the burned-out car of a homicide victim on the West Side near Belle Vista Avenue on Wednesday morning, spokesman Lt. Robin Lees said.
The car, which police suspect was set on fire late Sunday or early Monday, belonged to Marilyn Guthrie, 61, of Niles.
Guthrie was killed in an apparent hit and run early Sunday on Parkcliffe Avenue, Lees said.
The cause and manner of death are still pending an investigation by the coroner.
Family members had filed a missing person's report Monday when Guthrie failed to show up for church and work.
Lees said Guthrie might have been struck by her own car, a Chevrolet Cavalier, and Youngstown and Niles police are cooperating to investigate the last 24 hours of Guthrie's life to learn why she was on the South Side.
Lees said robbery and carjacking are among the possible motives for the crime but that nothing had been confirmed.
"We don't believe that this was any accident," Lees said. "How she got there is what we're trying to establish."
Family and friends wonder the same thing, believing that Guthrie, a regular attendee at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in McDonald, had no reason to be on the South Side on a Sunday morning.
Jennifer Pountious of McDonald, who has been friends with Guthrie for 35 years, said the recent events have caused a mix of emotions.
"I just want to see her again -- I can't believe she's gone," Pountious said through tears. Pountious said she also feels angry because Guthrie "was an innocent person, and she wouldn't hurt a fly."
Many accolades for victim
Pountious said she would go to court to honor her friend if a suspect were charged with the homicide.
"I just want him to know that somebody cared about her," she said. "She can't just die in vain." For now, Pountious holds on to memories of her friend as she waits for news.
Friends say they will remember the way Guthrie enjoyed playing cards and games, watching old Doris Day movies and reading with her friends in a literary guild. They describe her as energetic, independent, friendly and trustworthy.
"She would do anything for anyone," Pountious said.
Guthrie, who was divorced with no children, was devoted to her brother, sister, nieces and nephews, she said. Guthrie also was dedicated to her job as activities coordinator at Liberty Arms Assisted Living Residence, where she had worked for more than five years.
"She was an extraordinary person," said Tina Goodman, a nurse who had worked with Guthrie at the facility. Goodman said Guthrie was loved by her co-workers and the residents.
Many McDonald residents loved Guthrie from her days as a cashier at a local grocery store, said the Rev. Daniel Kulesa of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish. The Rev. Mr. Kulesa said Guthrie seemed quiet but happy.
But Pountious described Guthrie as an outgoing woman who enjoyed having a good time, including the occasional vacation.
Gave of herself
Pountious said she and Guthrie were among a group of friends who had scheduled a cruise for late July, a trip Pountious might skip because it wouldn't be the same without Guthrie.
"She was like a sister," she said. "I don't know where to go from here."
Pountious said she will miss that sisterly friendship and the smile Guthrie always wore. And no matter the circumstances, Pountious said Guthrie remembered the people with whom she shared smiles, including customers from the store and residents at Liberty Arms.
Whenever one of those individuals died, Guthrie would attend calling hours and pay her respects. Pountious said she expects friends and community members will do the same for Guthrie.
Calling hours will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Blackstone Funeral Home in Girard. The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home.