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Report: Authorities Can't Find Alleged Victim In Ethnic Intimidation Case

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The case against a couple from West Deer charged with ethnic intimidation, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, robbery and criminal conspiracy may be falling apart.

George Palmer, 32, and Hope Gorham, 31, were scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing. However, the Post-Gazette reports the hearing was postponed to give police more time to locate the alleged victim, who is believed to have given officers a false name.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim was allegedly approached by Gorham on the morning of May 10 at J.J.'s Country Tavern in New Kensington. Gorham asked if he "wanted to party."

Two men in a car then picked him up outside, eventually taking him to Palmer's home in West Deer. But when he got inside, the victim told police a man with a wrench appeared from a closet and confronted him. Several other men also came into the room and ordered him to empty his pockets.

The victim, who said "he is Hispanic, but looks black," told police he was beaten with the wrench, shoved, kneed and kicked. The criminal complaint also says the suspects yelled racial epithets at him.

According to the criminal complaint, the victim said two of the men had their heads shaved, one had an anarchist tattoo and another had a swastika on his abdomen.

The victim also said he heard the suspects say, "We should just kill him," multiple times. Eventually, the victim was able to get to the front door and ran away. A police officer later spotted him walking down the street injured and without his shoes.

The victim also lost his jacket, ring and cellphone in the alleged attack and suffered severe injuries to his face. He was taken to Allegheny General Hospital.

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Palmer told police he knew "nothing of any type of incident" at his home and he and his girlfriend were about to go to bed. However, police say while interviewing Palmer, they found the victim's shoe in the front yard.

Police say the victim identified Gorham as "the girl from the bar" from a photo array.

Palmer remained in the Allegheny County Jail on a reduced $50,000 bond. Gorham was released Wednesday after her bond was reduced to non-monetary. Their preliminary hearing was rescheduled for May 31.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office were also investigating the case.

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