Cause pending in death of Austintown girl found in landfill
By ROBERT CONNELLY
Police notified the family of 16-year-old Gina Burger on Friday afternoon that the missing girl’s body had been found in a landfill in Mercer County, Pa.
Her mother, Jaclyn Bacher, said shortly after 3:30 p.m. by phone: “We just got word that that was my daughter.”
A tearful Bacher did not want to say more.
The cause of death is not known at this time.
Austintown Police Chief Robert Gavalier said Burger’s body was found “fully intact” Wednesday afternoon, so police are investigating to find out how she died.
“Toxicology reports take a little bit of time. ... We’re not positive; that’s why we’re waiting to see,” Gavalier said.
He said police were first out at the Compass West Apartments on Monday night when Burger’s disappearance was called in, and then again Wednesday night to canvass the area. Multiple detectives were at the apartment Thursday.
Pennsylvania State Police based in Mercer had been handling the investigation since the body was found Wednesday at Tri-County
Industries in Grove City, Pa.
Tri-County serves nine counties, and the Mercer County coroner’s office had the body.
When The Vindicator talked with Bacher earlier Friday, she discussed the events leading up to her daughter’s disappearance Monday night from Compass West Apartments. Compass West sits off of South Edgehill Avenue and Burkey Road in the township.
Bacher said Burger went to get tea from a neighbor in the complex at 8 p.m. Monday. When she wasn’t back in two hours, the family alerted authorities. According to a police report, the incident was reported at 10:51 p.m. Monday and was designated as an unruly/missing juvenile.
Bacher said multiple detectives were at the family’s residence Thursday, looking in the girl’s bedroom and throughout the apartment complex.
“It fits her description down to the no shoes with the socks,” Bacher told The Vindicator on Friday morning, discussing media reports about the description of the victim found Wednesday in Pennsylvania.
“She would have been back. ... She never stayed out past curfew,” Bacher said of her daughter. She added that Burger had recently moved to the area from Texas and didn’t know many people.
Gavalier said detectives had asked for dental records from the family.
“It’s going to be very tough. ... We’re not sure how she died or where she died,” Gavalier said.
Bacher urged anyone with information to call Austintown police at 330-799-9721.
Gavalier said there is no person of interest in the case right now.
The police chief, when asked if Compass West residents should be fearful, said the Burger case appears to be an isolated incident.
Authorities are awaiting the coroner’s report, he noted, but have sent some evidence from both Ohio and Pennsylvania to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.