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Schuylkill County News

“We Had To Get It Right” – State Police, DA Discuss Length of New Philadelphia Murder Investigation

The investigation took nearly 8 months before an arrest was made.

It was just a few days short of 8 months between the time New Philadelphia teens Hunter Mock and Angelito Caraballo were killed and Lamour Branch was arrested and charged with their murders.

During that time, family and friends of the victim publicly expressed their frustration with how long the police investigation was taking. Many in the public felt the same way.

On Wednesday, just a few hours after Branch was arrested outside Courtroom 4 at Schuylkill County Courthouse and charged with two counts of first- and third-degree murder, Pennsylvania State Police Troop L Capt. Robert Bailey and Schuylkill County District Attorney Mike O’Pake explained what took so long to get to this point.

“I’m very aware that the community was very eager for this investigation to be solved,” Bailey said at a press conference Wednesday outside the State Police-Frackville barracks. “However, as investigators of the Pennsylvania State Police, we had to get it right.”

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Bailey said the exhaustive investigation into the deaths of Mock and Caraballo on Oct. 8, 2023, in a wooded area outside New Philadelphia used more than 1,000 man hours.

Pennsylvania State Police Troop L Commanding Officer Capt. Robert Bailey speaks at a news conference on Wednesday to announce the arrest of Lamour Branch for the October 2023 murders of Hunter Mock and Angelito Caraballo.

Dozens of investigative resources were utilized before charges were filed against Branch, Bailey said.

“It took diligence. It took some time but we made sure we crossed every T and dotted every I to make sure we got it right. And we got it right,” Bailey said confidently. “I want to thank the Frackville station for their hard work and dedication in bringing Branch to justice and holding him accountable for his actions.”

O’Pake said he hoped what happened on Wednesday helps start the healing process for the families of Mock and Caraballo. And he thanked State Police for its work on the investigation that led to Branch’s arrest.

Schuylkill County District Attorney Mike O’Pake thanked the families of the victims for their patience in waiting nearly eight months for charges to be filed in this case.

“I want to give a lot of credit to the State Police, particularly Det. (Nicholas) Reese,” the DA said. “He did a very deliberate and, consequently, a thorough investigation of this matter, which resulted in charges being filed and hopefully bringing some justice for the victims and closure for the families. This is the beginning of that process.”

O’Pake believes that thorough investigation resulted in the right person being arrested. And he doesn’t expect to bring charges against anyone else connected with this case.

But Bailey did say Wednesday that the investigation into the New Philadelphia murders remains active.

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“We feel the appropriate person was charged. We feel the appropriate charges are now going to be heard by the Court of Common Pleas,” O’Pake said.

The DA also thanked the families and the community for their patience in waiting out the investigation.

“State Police were very forthcoming with the family throughout the investigation. I think the families were as patient as they could be or were expected to be. I thank the families for their patience. And I thank the State Police for their diligence in getting to this point,” O’Pake said. “We believe we have the right person behind bars right now. I think the community of New Philadelphia can breathe a little easier.”

Photos: Coal Region Canary

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