An important lesson in spelling. And MURDER.

Last night while the Buccos were up by six runs and it seemed safe to turn away for a bit, I accidentally stumbled upon a show on Investigation Discovery, which is an actual network that I didn’t just make up right now, called Disappeared, which obviously chronicles the stories of people who have disappeared and the efforts that went into finding them and/or their remains, or the efforts that continue to this day for those that still haven’t been found. That sentence was so long, but I have no desire to go back and edit it. You can, however, buy a period and put it anywhere you want.

It was the season finale and it was the story of the disappearance of Arizona millionaire Billy McGrath.

I decided to stick around to see what ever happened to Billy because the first thing we learned was that Billy was born and raised in Pittsburgh.

He eventually moved out west were he found his fortune in interior design.

Then one day in 2009, when he was to go and meet his financial advisor, he didn’t show up, but instead his advisor found a voice mail left earlier in the day supposedly from Billy saying that he wouldn’t be coming in. The advisor immediately knew the voice wasn’t Billy McGrath’s and when Billy didn’t show up, his advisor called the police and from there, Billy McGrath, Pittsburgh boy, was officially missing.

But someone continued to use his bank cards, make withdrawals from his many banking accounts and fund accounts, and someone claiming to be Billy was sending emails to all of Billy’s friends saying that Billy was leaving town for a while. Heading to Palm Springs. Don’t worry about me.

I have a point, Internet; don’t stop reading. It’s about to get awesome. Sad, but awesome.

Where were we? Right. So Billy’s friends are all getting emails from Billy and they tell the cops that no way in hell would Billy ever leave without calling them because he was a notorious phone talker. Would talk for hours on the phone until his friends were all, “OMG. I have to go. I just missed two birthdays, Billy!”

Another thing that was suspicious? In one of the emails, Billy spelled his hometown “Pittsburg.”

And his friends knew. They said, “We grew up in Pittsburgh. We love Pittsburgh. We are lifelong Steelers fans. And everyone of us, and Billy too, knows that PITTSBURGH IS SPELLED WITH AN H!”

So from then on, his friends and the detectives kind of knew that something had happened to Billy and that someone Billy trusted had taken his bank cards and PINS and passwords and was pretending to be Billy in order to keep up the ruse long enough to get more and more money.

Finally, the investigation led to Billy’s trusted good friend and contractor Brad Tocker, who helped Billy redesign his house.

They had questioned him earlier because he was the last person to see Billy alive and he didn’t raise any red flags with them, but now they were really leaning on him after they Luminol-ed Billy’s house that Brad had a key to and found it had been full of blood and now wiped clean.  They also found that Brad was deep in debt and failing at life in general. Motive.

So, they bring Brad in for further questioning. And guess what they do? THEY ASK HIM TO WRITE PITTSBURGH ON A PIECE OF PAPER!

I’m not making this up!

So Brad goes to write Pittsburgh and what does he write? “Pittsburg.”

Kiss. of. Death. They even have a video of him writing it.

The investigators then get a warrant for the suspect’s home computer and find hilarious Google searches of “How to kill someone and get away with it.” “Quick kill.” “Bodies in cement.” Like, is there a site called, “Killing for Dummies?” Brad wanted to know.

Brad Tocker was eventually found guilty in a no-body trial and on the day he was sentenced to life in prison without parole, he revealed he had buried Billy’s body under the floor in his mother’s kitchen, eight feet down.

The moral of this story is three-fold. 1. Don’t kill because you’ll NEVER get away with it. 2. Rest in peace, Billy McGrath of Pittsburgh. 3. PITTSBURGH IS SPELLED WITH AN H! If you don’t know that, you could spend your life in prison.

The end.

You can catch the episode again on May 5. Here’s the sneak preview:

P.S. The female detective on this case is everything I want to be when I grow up to solve crimes. Mmmrowr.


  1. Father George
    May 1, 2012 5:07 pm

    Perhaps Brad Tocker is a time traveller from that short period when there was no H?

  2. Alexis Macklin
    May 1, 2012 5:08 pm

    Extra bonus points for anyone who knows the story of why Pittsburgh has an H, why it was gone for a while, and when and why it came back ;)

    • Steve
      May 1, 2012 6:04 pm

      Avid Church goers would remember that this was discussed in the comments of a previous Sermon titled mapgasms

  3. ketchup is a veggie
    May 1, 2012 5:12 pm

    ID is my favorite, favorite channel and I was so excited that the city helped get the jagoff last night.

  4. Deacon Tom
    May 1, 2012 6:03 pm

    The Pittsburgh “H” – Some say it was named by Scotsman General John Forbes and that “burgh” is the Scottish form while “burg” is the German form. Others claim that the official Post Office is responsible for adding the “H.”

    Nevertheless, from 1891-1911, the “H” was dropped. It appears as though President Benjamin Harrison was a stickler for uniformity and so he created the U.S. Board on Geographic names in an effort to set some standards on the spelling names of cities and towns in the U.S. As we Pittsburghers are never ones to back down from a good fight, the battle for the “H” raged on! Finally in 1911 the Board relented and gave in to the demand that Pittsburgh be spelled with an “H”!!! And as they say, “the rest is history!”

    Here’s a funny side note. I grew up in a little town about 10-15 mins NE of the city called “Sharpsburg.” The rumor when we were kids was that our town was originally spelled with an “H” at the end, but that officials from the big city convinced our founder, James Sharp, to drop the “H” so that Pittsburgh could be unique! Kids will be kids!

  5. bluzdude
    May 1, 2012 8:03 pm

    I thought the “H” was gone because it was temporarily on the other side of the Steelers helmet.

  6. Janelle
    May 1, 2012 8:42 pm

    I love Investigation Discovery too much. I work in closed captioning and some days ID is my job and I love it but get so paranoid.

    Another great related story is a woman who tried to poison her daughter and got caught because of the nonexistent word “antifree.”

  7. Emily
    May 1, 2012 9:43 pm

    I loved this post. I was with you the engrossed the whole time. In fact I’ve already re-told the story twice… ending it with the all important lesson “so that’s why this city matters and people should know things abaht it.”

  8. Emily
    May 1, 2012 9:45 pm

    and let us not forget the other important lesson: nebby family can solve a murder case

  9. TripleC
    May 2, 2012 8:22 am

    Two thumbs up for the Investigation Discovery channel.

    My wife and I are hopelessly addicted and I even went as far as telling my in-laws that if I ever ended up missing/dead that they should go back and review what their daughter watched on Investigation Discovery because that’s probably where came up with the idea.

    • bucdaddy
      May 2, 2012 11:27 am

      You notice the clever way they hook you?

      No commercials between the end of one show and the start of another. I don’t klnow how many times I’ve been watching at 1 a.m. and thought, “I’ll go to bed just as soon as this one’s ov … aw crap, I’ll be here for another hour.”

      The only way to avoid this is to turn the TV off. And LOCK it.

      • TripleC
        May 2, 2012 12:00 pm

        So true. Never really noticed that before but that can easily explain how all of a sudden 4+ hours can fly by.

  10. Sue
    May 2, 2012 1:11 pm

    I love Investigation Discovery! I’ve told my kids they can stop trying to pull one over on me, cause I have watched so many ID shows I can now solve any crime. Oh, and the Ray Gricar disappearance = spoooky! Even more so now than when it happened.

  11. Sam's Dog
    May 2, 2012 10:10 pm

    Oh, great, another tale painting contractors in a bad light. Wait a sec, once again I’m automatically elevated by default. Sometimes you don’t even have to try.