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Suspected murder stuns residents

June 18, 2009 4:17:32 PM PDT
It's been more than 30 years since Nazareth, Pennsylvania has had a homicide, but police there are investigating one there now, and today, the community mourned the death of Patrick O'Brien.Mourners gathered at Holy Family Catholic Church in Nazareth this morning to celebrate the life of 33-year-old Patrick O'Brien. The youngest of 3 brothers and father to a 12-year-old daughter from Moorestown, he was found dead early Sunday morning on the front porch of his parent's home, where he lived.

"Friendly, easy-going, cooperative, you wouldn't think anybody would ever want to hurt him," mourner Bill Thornerg said.

Millie Kish lives next door to St. John's Lutheran Church, where O'Brien worked as a sexton and would cut her grass and shovel snow.

"He had a soft, gentle, soft-spoken voice, never harsh, never said anything bad about anyone," Kish said.

O'Brien was last seen in the bar at the American Hotel where witnesses say he exchanged words with another patron.

"One was sitting on one side of the bar, one sitting on the other side of the bar. They're yelling across the bar at one another," bartender Donna Brown said.

Now, Pennsylvania State Police are working with local authorities to figure out what happened to O'Brien between the time he left the bar around 2:00 a.m. and was found 4 hours later on his parent's doorstep.

"We don't believe it to be a random act. We're doing an investigation and looking at some persons of interest at this point," Chief Michael Sinclair of the Nazareth Police said.

Authorities have not released the cause of death, but sources say physical marks to the body led the coroner to classify O'Brien's death a homicide.

That's shaken this quiet community where there hasn't been a killing here in over 3 decades.

"The first murder in 31 years right here in Nazareth, that's unbelievable," mourner Arlene Klocek said.

Police continue to investigate

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