Joseph Francis Gaetano

Joseph Francis Gaetano, an officer with the Pittsburgh Police Department, was shot and killed on June 10, 1966. Gaetano was escorting Edward E. Bittner, who had been arrested earlier that day for auto theft, through the Public Safety Building when Bittner got control of Gaetano’s weapon and shot him. Bittner fled through a courthouse window and was arrested in the Hill District.

After a failed jail escape and lengthy pre-trial proceedings, Bittner was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. As he was being transported to Western Penitentiary, his wife, Mary Anna, gave him a sawed-off shotgun. In the effort to disarm him, Bittner shot and injured a guard.

An additional term was added to Bittner’s prison sentence as a result. Mary Anna Bittner was also convicted.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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