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UPDATE -- July 24, 2006

Joseph and Yusef Rhone have each been sentenced to "life in prison without the possibility of parole" for the First Degree Murder of Thomas Clinton Holmes. Both men received the same life sentence for Conspiracy to Commit Murder.

"Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

UPDATE -- May 5, 2006

Verdict: Joseph and Yusef Rhone
Guilty of First Degree Murder
Guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Murder

UPDATE -- May 2, 2006

Courting Disaster

Three years and four months from when my big brother, Thomas Clinton Holmes, was gunned down in the street like a worthless dog, the matter of his murder has come before a jury of his peers: 8 White women, 5 White men and 1 Black woman.

Will Tommy get a fair trial?

Based on the prosecutor's opening statements -- the answer is "no." He's been presumed guilty. Practically the first words out of assistant district attorney Beemer's mouth was that Tom Holmes was a drug informant secretly working for the police.

Beemer began his opening remarks with an outrageous statement he can't possibly prove. What witness could verify such a thing? Tommy's dead and no police officer would ever reveal such information. It would put too many people at risk and the disclosure would obviously discourage future assistance.

Interestingly enough, less than three hours after his murder, Brenda Waters reported on KDKA-TV NEWS that Tom Holmes was a "drug informant." Directly questioned about her source for that information, Waters refused to say.

After the assistant district attorney found the victim guilty, he went on to tell jurors the Joseph Rhone and his half-brother Yusef Rhone were guilty of a conspiracy to murder. Their motive for this homicide plan, according to Mr. Beemer, was revenge on Tommy for giving information that led to the arrest of the Rhone's half-sister on drug-related charges. Beemer didn't tell jurors only a very small amount of drugs were found -- and that the woman in question only spent a few hours in custody over the minor incident.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor claimed the half-sister phoned the half-brothers from jail and ordered a hit on Holmes. It's dramatic stuff, and if true -- jurors must be wondering why this half-sister isn't getting her full share of the blame. But for her . . . there would be no conspiracy and no murder. Why isn't she on trial, too?

Third Man Theme

Beemer promised the court would hear from yet a third young man who was at the crime scene with the Rhone brothers. Supposedly the witness will say he saw Yusef fire the first round of 4 shots. He heard but did not see who fired the second round of 4 shots, because he ran away.

At present, that particular witness cannot be located. He's run away again -- and anyone who watches CourtTV knows why. Jurors will seriously question this third man's credibility and his involvement. If he's walking along with the Rhone brothers, and they've loaded their guns and are on the way to kill Tommy Holmes -- isn't he also part of the conspiracy?

And speaking of conspiracy . . .

Mr. Beemer told jurors he'd swear in Detective Joe Osinski, the responding officer who just happened to be headed to Tommy's house at the exact time of the murder. (Very dramatic timing.) Maybe Osinski will announce that he was the policeman Tommy was secretly working for, and that Tommy gave him information about the half-sister. Of course that would imply that Osinski gave the sister Tommy's name, since she knew who ratted on her immediately -- while still in jail.

And won't jurors reasonably wonder how the very same officer involved with Tommy and the half-Rhone brothers and half-sister, also happened to be on the very same corner with them all at 8:05 PM January 9, 2003?

Despite Beemer's prosecution of the victim, the photos displayed of Tommy's dead body, curled and crumpled on the ground, are not stills from a TV movie. I trust that someone on that jury, or some responsible officer of the court is going to put this conspiracy together.

Stay Tuned.

UPDATE -- November 12, 2005


On Wednesday morning, November 6 -- it looked like a sure thing that the Tom Holmes murder trial would really, truly . . . actually begin.

Two years is a long time to wait, but finally, everyone seemed ready.

The prosecuting and defense attorneys were in place. The jurors and alternates had been selected. All the witnesses were there -- (one complaining of repeatedly receiving subpoenas to appear in court only to be told the trial had again been cancelled).

Several McKeesport police officers had shown up, including of course, Detective Joseph Osinski.

Families of the victim and the accused were nervously waiting in the courthouse halls. Defendant, Joseph Rhone -- behind bars since his January 2003 arrest for Tommy Holmes' murder -- was present and accounted for, and understandably anxious to get on with the proceedings.

Everyone was certain the trial would start . . . until the judge jumped in.

Speaking directly to the defendant, Judge John Zattola said he thought both Rhone brothers should be tried at the same time. Rhone disagreed. He wanted his own trial, and after two years in jail he wanted it to begin that afternoon.

Although Judge Zattola pointed out that it was solely Rhone's choice -- whether to be tried separately or with his half-brother, Yusef -- the judge also made it abundantly clear that, in his judgment, the wiser choice was to postpone things and later have one jury try both men.

It took a while, but after 20 amazing minutes of persuasive argument -- from the bench -- the Judge convinced Rhone to return to jail and in five or six months go to trial with his brother.

While Judge Zattola was twisting the arm of the 23-year-old defendant, it became obvious that Tommy's trial would not take place after all and justice would be delayed. When Zattola informed Rhone that it was surely to his benefit to tag-team the system since that would potentially allow more exculpatory evidence to be presented, there was no doubt justice had been denied.

As the family of a 44-year old victim who had no choice in the manner or timing of his instant death penalty trial on a cold street corner-- we are shocked, outraged, confused and completely disheartened that justice for Tommy has been shot down -- again. In our judgment, the system has failed.


Issues likely to surface in the trial of
State vs. TweedleDee and TweedleDum

  • Joseph Rhone and Yusef Rhone have both admitted they were at the scene of Tommy Holmes' shooting

  • Each man has -- at various times -- pointed a guilty finger at the other

  • Both have changed their story countless times

  • Neither brother has ever given a motive for conspiring, ambushing and executing Tom Holmes

  • The two guns used to shoot the victim have been located and connected to the Rhone brothers

  • The first shooter shot from a distance and only wounded Tommy in the leg -- the second shooter actually killed him with multiple bullets fired from point blank range

  • Several Rhone family members now claim to have witnessed various things in the days and weeks after the killing

  • Yusef has indicated there was yet a third person -- another young Black man -- at the crime scene, prior to the shooting

  • A witness is prepared to swear the one and only person he saw on the street with Tom Holmes at the time of the murder was an older Caucasian man -- later identified as Detective Joseph Osinski

  • Despite his assertion that he heard no gunfire, saw no shooter and found no weapon -- mere hours after the murder, Detective Osinski officially reported that two different guns were used in the crime

UPDATE -- October 3, 2005

Family Affair

My dearly beloved mother, Patricia, used to always say: "Being smart isn't knowing all the right answers -- it's knowing all the right questions." Tickled and strangely tormented by the implications of that thought, my mother brought the phrase into discussions on countless occasions.

Two months before my brother Tommy was murdered, my Mom passed away.

I'm thankful the timing wasn't reversed. My mother was spared the agony of Tommy's murder. But often, I desperately wish she were here. Patricia Anne Randolf Holmes was a very smart lady. I would love to get her reaction to an item that just appeared in the newspaper.

Suspect Arrested in
2003 McKeesport Slaying
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Sunday, October 02, 2005

A second person has been arrested for the 2003 slaying of a McKeesport drug informant.

Yusef Rhone, 22, was arrested Wednesday in the shooting death of Thomas Holmes and charged with criminal homicide and criminal conspiracy. Rhone joins his brother, Joseph, who was also charged with criminal homicide a week after Holmes' death and is scheduled to stand trial on November 4.

I'm scheduled to memorialize my mother who died on November 4, 2002. And my brother, who was gunned down on January 9, 2003.

If Yusef Rhone now admits to being a second gunman -- as some reports indicate -- his confession could explain away many troubling facts. After three long years of cruel twists and criminal turns in the mysterious murder case of Tom Holmes, his family and friends are finally getting some answers.

I just wish Mom were here -- because at this point, I have no idea what the questions are.

"TweedleDum and TweedleDee
agreed to have a battle"

UPDATE -- September 13, 2005

Court Called Off . . .

For the sixth time, justice for Tom Holmes has been delayed. Mere hours before the trial was to begin -- disappointing many, but surprising very few -- D.A. Beemer announced to the court that he needed more time. Although the trial has been re-scheduled for November 4th, it's beginning to look like justice for Tommy will be denied forever.

"He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it."
-- Troades

UPDATE -- September 8, 2005

Conspiracy Theory

It's long been suspected there were at least two answers to the dark question, "Who murdered Tommy Holmes?"

Bullets from a gunman using a .38 tore into Tommy's legs and lower torso, but mysteriously, a different type of bullets -- fired shortly afterward -- did the real damage. Using a .380, a second killer shot Tommy in the brain several times at extremely close range.

Further clouding the dim picture is the fact that a police detective was present at the scene both before and after the crime, but maintains he heard no shots and saw no shooters.

For years now, Tom Holmes' family and friends have speculated about the identity of the conspirators and mulled over theories about the involvement of Detective Joseph Osinski and other shadowy figures near the scene. Mark Tranquilli, an uncooperative, unresponsive and unimaginably rude district attorney, helped fuel gloomy rumors of a cover-up.

Finally shedding some light on the matter, newly assigned DA, Bruce Beemer has now entered the picture, and he apparently has some conspiracy theories of his own.

In a consultation with family members, Mr. Beemer made it clear that he understands the complexity of the case and why so many concerned people have so many questions about the murder of Tom Holmes.

Tommy was 44 when he was gunned down on an open street corner.

The person charged is Joseph Rhone -- A.K.A. Joseph Nixon. Based on the accusations of his "half-brother," Yusef, 20-year-old Rhone is the only named defendant. Yusef told police his brother loaded a gun and left the house vowing revenge on Tom Holmes and said Rhone returned and bragged that he had shot and killed Tommy.

Although he's changed his story on several occasions, Rhone has never denied being involved -- at times claiming the shooting was an accident or an act of self-defense, and variously protesting his complete innocence, insisting police brutalized him into false confessions.

But despite being behind bars since January of 2003, Rhone has never given a plausible motive or a credible account of events that actually matches up to the evidence.

What was the reason for the planned assassination? How did Rhone know Tommy would be standing on the corner at that moment waiting to meet Officer Osinski? And who else was there on the street shooting a gun?

DA Beemer seems confident he can get answers to some of these dark questions. He feels certain, witnesses called to the stand in Rhone's trial -- set to begin September 12 -- will enlighten us about what really happened.

But without a doubt, the most illuminating testimony will come from the man who was the last to see Tommy alive and the first to see him dead. Bruce Beemer plans to call Detective Osinski to the stand to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the conspirators who murdered Tom Holmes.

UPDATE -- September 1, 2005

Defensive Prosecutor Ousted

A few moments into my telephone conversation with assistant district attorney Mark Tranquilli, he inexplicably became testy and then hastily hung up on me. The ironically named Tranquilli was certainly living up to his reputation for being a hot head. I called him right back, but before I could ask any of my questions, Tranquilli blew another fuse.

"This conversation's over," the defensive prosecutor snapped. "Goodbye Mr. Holmes."

Astonished by the public servant's bizarre behavior, I immediately called back to the Allegheny County DA's office to locate Tranquilli's boss, or DA Zappala, or anyone else I could get an explanation from.

I'm the victim's family -- why was I being treated like the criminal?

After a maze of menu lists and dead-end voicemails -- I gave up. Obviously nobody at the DA's office was interested in seeking justice for my slain brother or my family -- hell, nobody there was even interested in answering the phone.

Now -- a week away from the start of the criminal trial -- word has come from the DA's office that Tranquilli has been taken off the case. Exactly why the prosecutor was pushed aside hasn't been made clear -- but whatever the reason for his sudden departure, it's truly heartening to hear that the temperamental attorney has been tossed out.

The person currently assigned to seek justice for Tommy Holmes -- Allegheny County's first homicide victim of 2003 -- is Assistant District Attorney Bruce Beemer. Trial is scheduled for September 6 and since defendant, Joseph Rhone has also been playing "musical chairs" with attorneys, it's anyone's guess who the defense lawyer will be.

In a case that's been plagued from the beginning by corruption, confusion and carelessness, it's very likely the trial will be postponed -- again.

Perhaps DA Beemer is up to the job. Maybe he's ready. Maybe Beemer has looked over the evidence that clearly shows Tom Holmes was shot and killed by, not one, but two guns. Two different types of bullets were recovered from Tommy's body, which means the killer either switched guns in the middle of his killing -- or he had an accomplice.

It could be that Beemer has reconciled the undeniable fact that the only other person with Tom Holmes when he was brutally murdered was McKeesport police officer, Joseph Osinski, who at first claimed he just "happened by" the crime scene only later to admit he was there specifically to meet with Tommy.

While there are questions about whether this new prosecutor will be able to take control and get a handle on things, there's no reasonable doubt Beemer will do a better job than the offensive lawyer he's replacing.

Goodbye Mr. Tranquilli.

UPDATE -- May, 2005

Tranquilli Fails Again

The judge had put his foot down. The trial concerning the murder of Tom Holmes was going to begin on May 2nd and he vowed there would be no more delays. Assistant District Attorney Mark Tranquilli insisted he was ready to do his job and make sure justice was served.

Well despite the many promises, Tranquilli and the Allegheny County authorities have failed -- failed Tommy, failed his family, failed his friends, and failed the community. The trial has been postponed again.

Unbelievably, this is the 5th time justice has been delayed -- and the 5th time it has been denied.

Apparently Tranquilli thought he could sweep the cold-blooded killing under a rug and convince Joseph Rhone to plead guilty to 3rd degree murder. At the last moment the deal fell apart. It's no wonder. Murder in the 3rd degree doesn't fit the facts of the case. Even if Rhone had agreed, the phony plea would never have been upheld.

The evidence shows Tom Holmes was shot with two different kinds of bullets. Obviously two different guns were used in the crime.

Rhone cannot plea and confess to a lie, so what exactly was he going to say happened the night of the vicious killing? Was he going to say he used two different guns? How was Rhone going to explain that he knew Tommy would be standing on the corner -- alone and unprotected? Was he going to say he never saw a McKeesport police detective drive up to the scene and emerge from his car?

DA Tranquilli's failure comes as no surprise. He has never made a serious attempt to resolve this matter according to the law. Perhaps this is due to the very suspicious and possibly very criminal behavior on the part of the McKeesport Police Department.

Tranquilli's continued refusal to seek justice has now sunk to an unacceptable level. Options to force the District Attorney's office -- headed by Stephen Zappala, Jr. -- to do the job it has been assigned by the people of Allegheny County, are now being explored. In the meantime, Tom Holmes' family and other concerned citizens can do little else but wait and wonder.

Allegheny County District Attorney's Office
(412) 350-4400

UPDATE -- April, 2005

Ready or Not

Time's up for assistant district attorney Mark Tranquilli. The judge in Tom Holmes' case has made it clear. The Allegheny County DA's office will now have to go forward with a search for the truth.

No more delays.

No more continuances.

No more hiding.

The trial is scheduled to begin promptly, Monday morning, May 2 at 8 AM. In attendance will be the defendant, Joseph Rhone, and several witnesses. Most of the witnesses will be police officers -- among them, the hapless, Detective Osinski. He's got a habit of showing up in the darndest places.

The story of Tom Holmes' murder has changed so many times in the last two years, it'll be fascinating to hear Tranquilli's final version of the truth. I wonder if he's still going to try to sell jurors on a killer who changed guns in the middle of his murder.

May 2nd, huh? I'll believe it when I see it.

UPDATE -- January 10, 2005


Unbelievably, the trial to locate and punish the sick animal that gunned down Thomas C. Holmes has been delayed -- for the fourth time.

Lady Justice wears a blindfold, but there's nothing covering her nose. This stinks.

If defendant Rhone is eventually found to be Not Guilty, Tom Holmes' real murderer will have been freely roaming the streets of McKeesport for over two years. Who's going to stop him from killing again?

The police?

UPDATE -- January 6, 2005

If Memory Serves

Almost exactly 2 years after his assassination, the Tom Holmes murder trial is finally set to begin.

The brothers of the victim anxiously wait in support of the search for truth. But Yusef Rhone, brother of the accused, has apparently lost faith.

In a shocking surprise to absolutely nobody, defendant Joseph Rhone's sibling, Yusef, will now recant his earlier statements and testify against his brother. Which parts of his fiction he'll now swear to be fact is anyone's guess. Yusef has never told the same story twice. A review of his bizarre statements would lead any juror to suspect he remembers things how ever he thinks it'll best serve him in the future.

While Yusef Rhone recollects his thoughts and Tom Holmes' family prepares to re-live the horror of his killing, the officer who first arrived at the murder scene may well be preparing to testify. As the responding officer that "just happened" to have been with Tommy at the exact time of his murder -- Detective Joseph Osinski should be the prosecutor's first witness.

UPDATE -- July 28, 2004


Justice for brother Tom Holmes has been delayed for the third time, and the search for the truth of his death has been re-scheduled for some time in early 2005.

UPDATE -- July 1, 2004

On the Eve of Trial

Joseph Rhone will face murder charges in the shooting death of Thomas C. Holmes. The trial is scheduled for July 12, 2004.

UPDATE -- March 31, 2004

Plot Twist

In the middle of a crime drama where its becoming increasingly difficult to tell the bad guys from the good, a new twist has the district attorney's office doing a 180 degree turn.

At the last minute, defendant Joseph Rhone would NOT sign on to any agreements with prosecutors. And apparently not pleased with his plea-happy lawyer, Rhone also requested new council. Replacing Bruce Carsia in that role will be well-known defender, Pat Tomassey.

The Allegheny County DA's office will now go forward with a search for the whole truth in a courtroom trial, upholding the noble goals enunciated on their website:

. . . serving as an agent for institutional change by enhancing the integrity of the trial process, whether by traditional or innovative means. The criminal justice system is not a static entity. It must be capable of anticipating, or at the very least responding, to societal problems.

Realistically, however, if the criminal inquest is any indication of the criminal trial, assistant district attorney
Mark Tranquilli has his work cut out for him.

  • For one thing, Dr. Cyril Wecht had never signed the coroner's report, forcing the ADA to call county detective Robert Ladley to testify about autopsy results. Under direct examination by Mr. Tranquilli, Ladley offered some general information but failed to detail the most curious facts.

  • Left unexplained at the hearing were reports which directly contradict a confession given by the defendant. Detective Ladley quoted Rhone saying Tom Holmes was demanding money from him and when Holmes produced a gun, a struggle for the weapon ensued.

    Ladley testified, "He had the gun and followed Holmes to the porch . . . He said he didn't want to be blamed for it, so he shot Holmes again." Ladley never mentioned a word -- nor was he ever asked -- about Detective Joseph Osinski's claim to have been standing on that very porch at that very time.

  • Although Tranquilli objected fiercely, defense lawyer Carsia was successful in establishing doubt about his client's absurd confession and the tactics police used to obtain it.

The trial is currently scheduled to begin April 26, but considering the new defense council's lack of familiarity with the crime and the DA's lack of a coherent case, its likely to be postponed.

In the meantime -- the dramatic love story between the Allegheny County District Attorney's office and McKeesport's cops seems to have reached its own turning point.


Conspiracy to Murder the Truth

UPDATE -- March 25, 2004

One Murder -- Two Guns?

After more than a year of desperate speculation that law enforcement officials were lying about who gunned down Tommy Holmes on a side street in McKeesport -- the horrifying truth has emerged. Results from ballistics tests have finally been revealed that confirm the painful suspicions: On January 9, 2003, just after 8:00 PM, Tom Holmes was shot with
two different types of bullets.

Bullets shot into the victim's leg were from a .38. Bullets fired at point blank range into the victim's head were from a .380.

One murder -- two guns? You needn't be a seasoned police detective to know -- two guns means there were most likely two shooters. Following the established sequence of events of the ambush -- it was circumstantially evident that there were two gunman. Now direct evidence proves it -- turning "conspiracy theories" into solid evidence of a premeditated murder conspiracy.

DA's case shot to hell

The only gunman the district attorney's office, intends to prosecute is Joseph Rhone -- also known as Joseph Nixon. This, despite his knowing for some time of concrete evidence of a second shooter. (Supposedly, backlogged criminal labs and red tape delayed the bullet findings.)

One murder -- two shooters? By the DA's math, that adds up to Murder Three for Joseph Rhone, who would plea out, forgo a jury trial, and spend the next 10 to 40 years in prison.

But what about the second gunman? Well. . . police now say 20-year-old Joseph was known around town as "Two-Gun Rhone." (No word on whether he was also known as "Two-Gun Nixon.")

The ludicrous suggestion that Rhone switched guns in the middle of his murder would be laughed at by a jury, which is perhaps why the DA intends to plea the case under the rug. That, and the fact that Joseph Rhone had no motive.

If brought to trial, the DA might suggest the involvement of Rhone's brother or some other conspirator with a motive (and a different gun), but such a theory would be less than satisfactory considering, no such person has or will be charged, and the evidence that it was the second shooter who actually killed Tommy Holmes.

Two shooters -- one Killer

Exactly what Joseph Rhone knows or doesn't know about who murdered Holmes isn't clear, but it almost certainly was not him.

Rhone fired the first random, scattered shots into the victim's legs and lower torso, then he ran from the area. Those bullets injured Holmes but they did not kill him -- they propelled him down the street screaming to neighbors for help. It was the second, sadistic round of shots fired into the brain that actually killed Tommy. That person -- the second gunman -- is the killer.

Who is the second gunman?

Right from the very beginning (almost before the beginning) -- one
McKeesport police officer claimed had had solved the crime: Detective Joseph Osinski.

It was Det. Osinski who told others he knew who had shot Tommy and why. He told Allegheny County investigators -- as well as members of the local news media -- that Tom Holmes had been a secret police informant. It was Detective Osinski who, mere hours after the crime, named Joseph Rhone as the murderer and reasoned that revenge on the "informant" was the motive.

Apparently Osinski was believed. And why not? He was there.

Joe Osinski was witness to the entire crime, having arranged to meet Holmes on the very corner, at the very time of the shooting. Once proclaiming it was pure coincidence, the detective has since abandoned the lie that he "just happened by" the crime scene -- but apparently still maintains that he heard nothing and saw even less.

Despite being on the corner before, during and after Holmes was shot multiple times -- Joseph Osinski never reports seeing Joseph Rhone shooting at Tommy, running down the street after him, switching guns and shooting him again.

Were the DA to actually have a trial, Officer Osinski would be defendant Rhone's best witness.

Osinski admits he heard female screams and saw a door slam, which he said prompted him to radio in a "possible domestic." Those screams came from the young daughter of a resident in the neighborhood. Both the man and his daughter heard the first set of shots ring out, and both saw Tommy -- injured -- galloping toward them yelling, "They're trying to shoot me!"


The resident immediately ran into his home to dial 9-1-1. Very soon after slamming his door, he hears a second burst of gunfire.

All of this took place in less than a minute. The girl's horrified yells were loud and likely caught on tape in the background sounds of her father's 9-1-1 exchange. Even as Officer Osinski says he's calling in his "possible domestic" and moving toward the slammed door to investigate, the young girl is screaming bloody murder.

Without question, the child was screaming at the sight of Holmes being executed. Osinski was within feet of the screaming child -- and the execution. The second set of shots rang out AFTER the door slammed. Left alone with the second gunman and Tommy's dead body, the nine-year-old must've been wailing -- "Daddy let me in!"

Getting Away with Murder

Assuming not even the DA would dare suggest that the little girl was wielding a gun and finished Tommy off, Joe Osinski is the only possible suspect. Certainly -- Osinski either saw the second gunman or he IS the second gunman. The second type of bullets fired into the victim's head at close-range, prove this isn't some spooky, circumstantial, conspiracy theory, but hard evidence of a conspiracy to commit murder.

Putting Joseph Rhone behind bars and slamming the door on the Tommy Holmes case is not justice. No rational district attorney or judge in America would think sending one person away to serve time for a premeditated murder conspiracy that factually involves at least two people, is serving justice. Someone is getting away with murder.

In his last moments on earth, Tommy Holmes looked directly into the eyes of the person who killed him. We do not know for sure who was looking back, but we now know -- it was NOT Joseph Rhone. As was always suspected, Tommy was staring into the eyes of a second gunman. That man is the killer, and from the time Rhone was arrested -- a week after the killing -- until now, that killer has been free to hunt the streets of McKeesport and kill again.

Apparently the DA is satisfied to leave it that way.

I'm not.

UPDATE -- February 5, 2004

Monty Clay Settles Brutality Suit

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, four eastern suburbs have paid Golden Gloves boxing champion Monty Clay a secret financial settlement to drop his lawsuit alleging police brutality.

McKeesport detective Joe Osinski, who worked with Edgewood and Swissvale officers, signed investigation reports that said Clay twice sold him cocaine.

Clay was not arrested either time.

UPDATE -- February 1, 2004

Four Minutes


According to responding officers, Lt. Lane and Sgt. Rydzak, it was exactly 8:09 when they arrived on Madison Street to find Officer Osinski kneeling over Tommy Holmes' dead body.

Tommy had been shot four times in the arm, once in the leg and three times in the head -- and although paramedics officially pronounced him dead at 8:18, beyond a reasonable doubt, the time of death was exactly 8:09.

Responding officers must've quickly reviewed the amazing story:

Four minutes before Tommy Holmes was brutally gunned down on the street at 8:09, he was alive and well and talking with Detective Joseph Osinski.


According to Detective Osinski -- it was exactly 8:05 PM on January 9, 2001 when he telephoned Tommy Holmes from the police station in McKeesport PA. and arranged to meet him at the 600 block of Madison Street.


After Osinski's call, Tommy walked out of his Fairview Street apartment which is located less than a block from the Madison meeting place. Officer Osinski begins the short, 0.8 mile drive.


Several loud shots are fired. A neighborhood resident says Holmes, already injured, came running and yelling to the front door of his house at 637 Madison St. Clutching his leg in pain, Tommy was bleeding and screaming, "Help me! Help me! They're trying to shoot me!"

The neighbor's nine-year-old daughter was in the hall and screamed out, so after promising to call 9-1-1, he quickly shut his front door. Immediately after he slammed the door, the resident heard several more loud gunshots very close to his door.

As Osinski arrives on Madison St. in an unmarked car that Thursday evening, he sees nothing unusual. Then, approaching the end of the block, Osinski says he hears a young female screaming three times very loud. Looking toward the direction of the screams, he sees the door at 637 Madison slam shut. Osinski dispatches a report of a possible "domestic."


Detective Osinski says he walked over to 637 Madison, saw a motionless body and realized it was the man he was to meet -- Tommy Holmes -- and sees Tommy has been fatally shot in the head.


Back-up officers arrive on Madison in response to a report of "gunshots fired" and find Osinski with Tommy's corpse. Osinski tells Lt. Lane and Sgt. Rydzak he has no idea what happened. He only mentions the female screams and the door slam. The homeowner at 637 Madison tells the officers about hearing the gunshots before his child screamed, and the second round of gunfire after his door slammed.

At that moment, Officers Lane and Rydzak must've had some questions for the detective:

How can Osinski have heard the loud female screams, but not the gun shots or loud screams from Tommy that caused the girl to panic?

How is it possible that Osinski could see the resident slam his door, but not see the reason for the slam -- Tommy Holmes standing in front of that door begging his neighbor for help?

How did Osinski witness the resident slam his door but not witness the killer who immediately after the slam, fired several shots into Holmes' head at point blank range?

Seven days after the shooting, 21-year-old Joseph Rhone was arrested for the murder of Tommy Holmes. Rhone's trial is set to begin on April 26, 2004.

It's likely Detective Joseph Osinski will not even be called to the stand, but if he is, he should be forced to give answers to those and at least one other question:

Why are you lying about the murder of Tommy Holmes?

UPDATE -- December 22, 2003

"I didn't have anything to do with it"

Justice for Thomas Holmes has again been delayed. The trial of his accused murderer has been postponed for a third time. It has been re-re-rescheduled for April 26, 2004 but could well be put off again.

Tommy's justice delayed is justice denied to us all -- including the defendant, Joseph Rhone. Rhone's been locked in a small cage for nearly a year.

Now firmly maintaining his innocence, the 20-year-old who variously calls himself Joseph Nixon, says detectives coerced and psychologically brutalized him into making a false confession to the shooting. The accused killer insists that he is the victim and that his rights were violated, claiming that when he initially requested a lawyer -- police refused.

Bruce Carsia, the lawyer eventually appointed to defend Rhone, has never mentioned any police coercion, opting instead to go to trial asserting that his client acted in self-defense during a fatal struggle. Mr. Carsia has so far failed to clarify what the alleged struggle was about, how it began, or why it ended with multiple shots fired into Tommy's head at point-blank range.

Also left unclear is how Rhone happened to know the precise time that Tommy -- who was at home watching television with friends -- would leave his apartment and walk alone to a nearby corner for a brief, impromptu, private meeting with McKeesport detective Joseph Osinski.

"They're trying to shoot me!"

Osinski never mentions coordinating with Rhone, and yet the two Josephs were acting as one, with the responding officer opening a very small window of opportunity for the killer to find his victim alone and unprotected. And despite accusations of corrupt police in a mysterious conspiracy, Rhone has never mentioned Osinski -- the officer who, before the murder, brought Tommy Holmes out to the corner, during the murder was at the crime scene, and after the murder, was the first to name Rhone as a suspect.

Of course, anything's possible -- but if the laws of space and time were in effect on January 9, 2003 at 8:07 -- this killing was no ironic, coincidental accident of fate. It's possible to believe that, by coincidence, Rhone and Osinski were headed for the exact same spot to meet the exact same person at the exact same time, but then impossible to believe they never saw each other.

The police officer's story is more corrupt than the suspect's stories of police corruption. If called to testify, Osinski would be forced to say he heard frightened screams and saw a door quickly slam, but heard and saw nothing that would prompt such a reaction. He'd also be asked to explain the lies initially told about his "just happening by" the shooting.

Curiously, the previously high-profile officer Osinski has been laying very low. The policeman has dropped off the radar screen. In fact, the once ambitious crime fighter's name has not appeared in a single news item this past year.

Apparently Joseph Osinski -- unlike Joseph Rhone -- is fully aware of both the overwhelming powers afforded to police, and the equally effective power of a suspect's choice to remain silent.

UPDATE -- November 28, 2003

Murder Trial Postponed

The trial against Joseph Rhone, previously scheduled to begin in early December, has again, been postponed.

UPDATE -- August 4, 2003

Trial Postponed

Joseph Rhone's murder trial has been delayed for as long as a year.

UPDATE -- April 30, 2003

Murder Trial Set to begin

Joseph Rhone, will face murder charges in the shooting death of Thomas C. Holmes. The trial is scheduled for May 19, 2003.

UPDATE -- February 12, 2003

"Terroristic Threats" charges Fizzle

Bruce Carsia, Joseph Rhone's pricey private attorney, flatly told the press he would get his client's confession tossed out and said, "Without the statement, I don't believe they have any evidence at all." Carsia slyly added, "I don't believe they have found the gun."

Allegheny County homicide Detective Robert Ladley didn't seem worried one bit about the missing murder weapon when he appeared at the January 27 coroner's hearing. Speaking of Holmes' murder which happened around 8 P.M., Ladley smugly testified about the solid proof against Rhone, "He had the gun at 4 P.M."

Ladley was speaking of the strange coincidence that Joseph Rhone, his brother Yusef Rhone, and Darrell Collins, were arrested by city and county police on January 15 for a supposedly "unrelated incident" that occurred a few hours before Tommy Holmes was shot with a handgun. There was apparently an argument near McKeesport's "Crawford Village" where a man was threatened by the suspects, especially Joseph Rhone, who waved a small silver handgun.

All three faced a hearing on the very serious charges of criminal conspiracy and terroristic threats. The victim in the case is on record as 18-year-old Devon King.

Based solely on an early tip from Detective Joseph Osinski, police theorized that the same gun used in the "terroristic threats" charge was used to kill Holmes, but, better at producing theories than evidence, police have never actually recovered the gun. Detective Ladley seemed to suggest that the testimony of Devon King would suffice as proof that Joseph Rhone had a gun on the day Holmes was shot.

Like so many other other parts of this absurd homicide investigation, the bizarre "terroristic threats" charge -- which went from unrelated incident to solid evidence of murder one -- has now melted away into thin air. Devon King, the alleged victim, was apparently too busy to show up at the hearing.

All charges have been completely dismissed.

The conveniently timed "Crawford Village" incident, which conveniently gave cause for Joseph Rhone's initial arrest and conveniently resulted in Yusef Rhone's jailhouse testimony against his brother, and which brought about the charges that were conveniently dropped -- is more than suspicious. It is transparent evidence of the most insidious kind of police misconduct.

How much longer will it be before evidence surfaces that Officer Joe Osinski had some deep involvement with the critical "Crawford Village" incident that has now disappeared?

UPDATE -- February 7, 2003

My Brother's Keeper

Joseph Rhone has used many different stories concerning his actual involvement in the murder of Tommy Holmes and his real motivations. One story Rhone has never used is the one investigators came up with, based on a tip from McKeesport Police Officer Joe Osinski -- revenge on Holmes for his complicity in the "arrest" of his half-sister.

Even the sleepy McKeesport Daily News noticed the odd and changing tale police were telling.

Daily News, January 28, 2003:

Police earlier suggested Holmes was shot in revenge for his giving information that led to the arrest of Rhone's sister on drug-related charges. "The victim had provided reliable information in the past regarding the sales and possession of illegal drugs in the McKeesport area," a police affidavit stated. That did not come up in testimony yesterday.

Yusef Rhone is the only person to confirm the half-sister revenge story. And that's not all he confirmed. Yusef, 19-years-old, gave investigators everything they needed to arrest his brother Joseph for murder one.

Giving incriminating evidence to police, Yusef said his brother was very angry that Tommy Holmes had given incriminating evidence to police! He informed them that Joseph had a small silver handgun. Yusef said his brother had called Holmes a "bitch", that shortly after Joseph left the house, gunshots were heard, and that afterward, Joseph returned and fully confessed to the murder.

Yusef's seemingly enthusiastic offer of information about Joseph Rhone was peppered with damaging details.

Since the half-sister's "arrest" turned out, in reality, to have been a meeting with police lasting about an hour, it's doubtful to have played any motivating role. Even police have given up on the "arrest" revenge scenario, and yet, they are stuck with the confirmation by Yusef.

Clearly Yusef was lying and simply mouthing words that the police wanted to hear. But why? What could possibly have forced Yusef to turn so fully and completely against his own brother?

Research has now revealed a startling fact which goes a long way to answering those questions: Yusef Rhone was in jail when he supplied authorities with the mountain of evidence against brother Joseph. Without that mountain, police had no cause to arrest Joseph Rhone, they had only the mole-hill of Officer Osinski's hunch.

This brother's keeper was a jail-keeper, and no one is very surprised to find that a teenager would lie about his brother to escape a dire situation, especially in a climate where jail-time is a very real threat and the brother is on probation for a previous crime.

The question now isn't why did Yusef Rhone give up his brother -- the question is, which law enforcement officer pressured Yusef into positively confirming and giving details of a detective's hunch that eventually proved to be a false assumption?

UPDATE -- January 28, 2003

All lawyered Up

On Monday January 27, Joseph Rhone, A.K.A. Joseph Nixon -- 20 --was held for trial on homicide charges in the shooting death of Tommy Holmes, but Bruce Carsia, his well-spoken, high-powered, private defense attorney said he will seek to have his client's confession thrown out.

It is unclear who's footing the bill for Rhone's star-spangled lawyer, but apparently -- they're getting their money's worth.

"The statement seemed to be induced," Carsia noted for the press. "Without the statement I don't believe they have any evidence at all linking him to the crime."

Just in case the confession isn't thrown out, Rhone's lawyer is ready with "Plan B." Carsia announced that his client acted in self-defense and that he will file a motion to suppress the statement Rhone gave to Allegheny County homicide Detective Robert Ladley and one other county detective.

Lillian Thomas of the Post-Gazette reported that in Rhone's January 16 confession, he said after running into Holmes on the street, that Holmes accused him of stealing $40, and that while arguing,
Holmes shot Rhone. In the struggle, Rhone says he got hold of the weapon and then shot Holmes in self-defense.

Ms. Thomas repeated the outrageous rumor that Rhone was angry with Holmes because he believed Holmes had provided information that led to the arrest of Rhone's half sister. Lillian Thomas even went so far as to attribute the rumor to Holmes' father!

Joseph Rhone never mentions the half-sister, which is odd, since McKeesport police Detective Joe Osinski was so certain she was the motive. He shared his theory with county investigators as they arrived at the crime scene. Officer Osinski must not have realized that if Rhone's half-sister needed help in a legal matter, he didn't have to gun down his neighbors -- Rhone could simply have given Mr. Carsia a call.

How did this 20-year-old get a high-priced attorney over a $40 argument?

UPDATE -- January 25, 2003

The Missing Motive

Although the reason for the murder may have been a revenge killing, or a bad drug deal, or a deadly argument, police seem sure of one thing:  they've found the person who murdered Tommy Holmes.  The 20-year-old suspect wasn't very hard to locate -- he was already in jail at the time of the arrest.

On January 17th, Allegheny County homicide Sgt. Jeffrey Korczyk said the previous arrest of a Braddock, PA. woman, on information provided by Tommy Holmes, is probably what led to his killing by the woman's half-brother,
Joseph Rhone, who also is known as Joseph Nixon.  Rhone/Nixon lived near Holmes on Shaw Avenue in McKeesport.  Holmes, who actually lived on Fairview Street, died on nearby Madison Avenue. 

Rhone/Nixon was charged with homicide on January 16, 2003.

McKeesport police arrested Makinma Gustave, 30, on drug possession charges on January 8 -- the day before Tommy Holmes was killed. Police claim Rhone/Nixon sought revenge, and dramatically walked a few blocks and gunned Holmes down with a pistol.

Authorities claim the gun used to murder Tommy Holmes was a
silver .380-caliber pistol.

Rhone/Nixon, was arrested for the murder while he was already in the Allegheny County Jail on an unrelated charge. He had been there since January 15, when he was arrested by McKeesport police on a terroristic threats charge stemming from an incident earlier on Jan. 9. In that incident, police said, Rhone/Nixon had displayed a silver pistol.

Joseph Rhone/Nixon, 20 apparently has a 19-year-old brother known as Yusef with whom he lived.

Yusef told police his brother had a silver .380-caliber pistol, and that on the day Mr. Holmes was shot, Yusef and Joseph had discussed how Tommy Holmes had "set up" their half-sister. Yusef Rhone also told county detectives that after Rhone/Nixon left their residence on foot, he heard gunshots and then his brother returned home and confessed that he had just murdered Tom Holmes.

Sgt. Jeffrey Korczyk said Rhone/Nixon, confessed to detectives that he had done the killing, but not because of his half-sister's arrest. Rhone/Nixon said he and Mr. Holmes had argued over a drug deal of some sort which apparently happened at some time in the summer of 2002, but no details were offered.

Rhone/Nixon also oddly insisted that he shot Holmes in self defense. Sgt. Korczyk dismissed the allegation as "self-serving" and "baseless."

Speaking of self-serving and baseless, although police have a confession -- they have yet to recover the much talked of,
silver pistol.

Evidence is scheduled to be presented at a coroner's inquest on January 27, 2003.

Time Line

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