Dispute ends in murder-suicide

PHILIPSBURG – An ongoing domestic dispute ended Thursday morning when a retired state trooper went into a Philipsburg supermarket and used a shotgun to kill his estranged wife and then shoot himself.

Mark R. Miscavish, 51, Philipsburg, who retired in 2011 from the state police barracks in Philipsburg, killed Traci Miscavish, 49, also of Philipsburg, who worked in the floral department of County Market in the Pebbles Plaza.

The supermarket was closed after the shootings.

Traci Miscavish was in an office area on the second floor of the store when Mark Miscavish entered around 10 a.m. and shot her, then shot himself in that same location, state Trooper Bruce Morris said Thursday afternoon outside the Clearfield barracks, which is handling the investigation.

A police source said that Traci Miscavish was shot three times and Mark Miscavish died of a single gunshot.

Morris said troopers were notified of the shooting at 10:06 a.m. and were on site at 10:10 a.m.

“When I arrived for work, the ambulances were outside, and the police were already in the building, including one with an assault rifle,” said Christine Price, an employee at Star Hill Winery located inside the County Market.

“He had come in before, but I wasn’t aware that she had a PFA against him,” Price said, referring to a protection-from-abuse order.

Miscavish was facing domestic violence charges in connection with his Jan. 23 arrest for a violent assault of his wife, Centre County District Attorney Stacey Parks Miller said Thursday.

Arrest records indicate that Traci Miscavish was attempting to end their 30-year marriage and returned to their Black Moshannon Road Home in Rush Township to collect some belongings.

While at the residence, she became concerned about her husband’s abuse of prescription drugs, and when she went to take them away, he wrestled her to the ground, pinned her arms behind her and attempted to bind her with duct tape, Parks Miller said.

She said he also reached into a dresser drawer and pulled out a handgun, then threatened to kill his wife and himself. Traci Miscavish was eventually able to get away and get out of the house, where she sought help from a passing motorist.

Court records show that Traci Miscavish filed for divorce last Friday.

Traci Miscavish’s sister, Grace March, speaking outside the supermarket after the shooting, said the system failed both her sister and her brother-in-law.

“What happened here was a travesty,” March said. She said her sister secured a PFA against her husband who “wasn’t in his right mind.”

“I don’t believe he’s at fault,” she said. “I believe he needed help. … And nobody was there to help him. Not the judge, not the cops, not our system.”

March said Mark Miscavish spent a week in jail after his arrest in January, then was released on unsecured bail.

Parks Miller said her office opposed Mark Miscavish’s release, noting the violent nature of the incident, the gun involvement and Traci Miscavish’s extreme fear of him.

“We tried to keep him incarcerated and were prepared to try this case,” Parks Miller said in a written statement. “Only after a conviction can we force a defendant into counseling. The system failed [Traci Miscavish] and her family, and we are part of the system. Our apology is woefully inadequate, and we are praying for this family.”

Price described Traci Miscavish as “a beautiful lady who had a beautiful smile and gorgeous blue eyes.”

Bob Snyder of Philipsburg said he knew Traci from her work in the County Market but not her husband.

“She was a nice lady,” Snyder said. “But apparently she had marriage problems.”

Snyder, 78, said he was surprised by the shooting “in a little dinky town like this. But it seems no part of the country is immune. It’s like people just seem to go off the deep end now,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.