Penn Township man arrested in stabbing deaths of father, aunt waives right to hearing

A 41-year-old Penn Township man accused in the stabbing deaths of his father and elderly aunt avoided a hearing Tuesday on two criminal homicide charges and opted to proceed to trial.

Neal M. Hubish, who has a history of violence and mental health issues, was arrested Nov. 9 after he told police he found his father, Arthur Hubish, 71, and aunt, Maria Puskarich, 76, “laying in a pool of blood” inside a hallway in their red brick home on Burrell Hill Road about 2:30 a.m.

Arthur Hubish was pronounced dead at the scene while Puskarich died on her way to Excela Health Westmoreland hospital in Greensburg, police said.

Neal Hubish initially told police and county detectives that he awoke to discover the pair mortally injured after hearing the two arguing. However, police noticed the younger Hubish had blood spatter on the right side of his face near his ear, according to court documents.

He later admitted to police that he repeatedly stabbed his father and aunt, police said.

Hubish did not have to appear in Penn Township District Judge Helen Kistler’s court in Harrison City Tuesday. He signed the paperwork waiving his right to a preliminary hearing in a conference room in the office.

Assistant District Attorney Peter Caravello said there is no plea agreement.

“It was a general waiver. There is no (plea) agreement,” Caravello said.

Hubish’s court-appointed attorney, Brian Aston of Greensburg, did not comment.

Puskarich’s two daughters, Kimberly Drakulic and Tanya Hettler, were outside the court office awaiting the start of the hearing. They declined to comment on the case or Tuesday’s proceeding, but described their mother as “very compassionate toward others.”

“She was very generous and very sociable,” Drakulic said.

Hettler said their mother was a “very hard worker” throughout her life.

She was retired after working 35 years at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, first as a housekeeper, then as a certified nursing assistant and later as a hospital operator.

“She really enjoyed helping people and like I said was very compassionate to others,” Drakulic said.

Both Puskarich and the younger Hubish were living at Arthur Hubish’s home.

According to court documents, police questioned Neal Hubish about the killings after seeing the blood spatter on the side of his face and observing swollen knuckles on his right hand and bruises on both hands.

Both Arthur Hubish and Puskarich had visible injuries to their heads and faces, as well as stab wounds to their throats and torsos, according to the criminal complaint.

Police found a camouflage-­handled knife with a 5-inch blade near Puskarich’s body. Blood-stained clothing and rags were found in the kitchen garbage, according to the complaint.

After the younger Hubish’s arrest, police Chief John Otto said officers were called to the residence many times over the past several years.

In an interview, police said Neal Hubish admitted to killing his father and aunt by “striking and stabbing both of them” with his hands, fists, feet and the knife found at the scene,” the complaint reads. Hubish also told police he took off his bloody clothes and put them in the kitchen garbage.

Kistler remanded Hubish to the county jail, where he has been held without bond since his arrest.

Over the past five years, Hubish has been charged in several criminal cases, court records show.

In February 2016, he was arrested on charges that he kept his mother captive in her home for a day after she had picked him up from the Westmoreland County Prison following his parole on three convictions. At the time, his mother told police he broke her phone, threw a bottle of pills, yelled and threatened to kill her.

He allegedly took her car keys and demanded $16,000 while continuing to talk incoherently, slam doors and walk around the house through the night, officials said. She also said Hubish refused to let her go to work the next day. She was only able to get help after she drove him to a local gas station and asked a clerk to call 911.

In 2018, Hubish was sentenced to about two years in jail for the incident.

A year later, he was charged after police said he assaulted his father during an argument near his home. At the time, police said the pair began arguing and Hubish broke the mailbox, hit his father and threw him on the road. A judge ordered Hubish to undergo a mental health evaluation.

The following year, Hubish was again charged after he was accused by police of choking an officer who was taking him into custody on a mental health warrant. Police said Hubish became combative with two Jeannette police officers and squeezed the throat of one of them, leaving a red mark. A Taser was used on Hubish multiple times.

Police said he had been released from the county prison less than a month before the killings.

Hubish’s next court appearance is March 2 before Judge Scott Mears, when he will be formally arraigned.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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