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Somerset County Homicide Update

Two more people have been charged for their roles in a 2017 double homicide case in Somerset County, the Attorney General’s Office announced Friday.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the arrests of Marekus Benson and Deandre Callender for their roles in the deaths of Damien Staniszewski and James Smith in March of 2017.

Benson and Callender were affiliated with the Columbus-based East Main Money Gang, an organization that began operating out of Johnstown in 2014, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Investigators say Staniszewski and Smith burglarized a Johnstown drug stash in March of 2017 during which time the pair stole a large amount of drugs and money.

They say Benson and Callender then conspired with two previously-arrested defendants to kidnap and murder Smith and Staniszewski.

Smith and Staniszewski disappeared in March of 2017 and their remains were discovered along the Ligonier Pike in Conemaugh Township on September 29, 2017.

“Drug trafficking is a dangerous and violent enterprise,” said AG Shapiro. “Two men were murdered so these East Main Money Gang members could continue to operate and profit while bringing poison into Pennsylvania communities. We could not have shut down this drug operation without the diligent work of our agents and law enforcement partners who work on the frontlines to protect Pennsylvanians.”

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