Pittsburgh Post Gazette July 16, 2017
It has been 15 years since a teenagers’ summertime field party ended with the baffling deaths of two high school boys on a rural road in Butler County.
Since then, vigils have been held; rewards offered; billboards with bigger-than-life photos erected.
All to no avail.
On Monday — the anniversary of the July 17, 2002, unsolved deaths of Shawn Baur and Scott Fau snaught — the family will reach to the psychic realm for help in solving the mystery of how the 15-year-old friends died.
At about 1:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, Shawn and Scott — students a grade apart at the Seneca Valley Intermediate High School — were found by a passing motorist on a two-lane road aside a cornfield in Forward Township, some 5 miles north of Route 228. Shawn was barely alive. He was flown to Allegheny General Hospital, North Side, where he was pronounced dead about 90 minutes later. Scott already was gone and was pronounced dead at the scene on Cashdollar Road. His internal injuries were so bad that he had died instantly from the trauma he had suffered.
Police speculated at the time that Scott was struck by a vehicle, something most likely larger than a car. Shawn’s death was more baffling. Police had said that, other than a head injury, there were no obvious injuries. Police said they labeled it “equivocal,” meaning they didn’t know what caused it.
The manner of death — whether an accident or a homicide — has not been determined.
The lead investigatory agency is the Pennsylvania state police at Butler. At the time, a trooper noted the lack of forensic evidence: no skid marks on the road; no broken glass; no vehicle parts. But, plenty of questions.
In the hours before the boys’ deaths, they had enjoyed a summer day, dining in Cranberry, then gathering with buddies at an outdoor hangout at a pond off of Watters Station Road in Forward where they indulged in some alcohol. Afterward, they visited a friend’s house about a mile and a half from their homes. They were on their way to their respective houses — they were neighbors — when they were killed.
“Sometimes, I can’t believe it’s been as long as it’s been. Sometimes it seems like it was forever ago. Sometimes, it seems like it was six months,” said Ailive Rausch, 52, who now resides in Moon. She is the mother of Scott.
For a long time, she made weekly calls to the police, looking for answers, hope burning that someone would be held accountable for the boys’ deaths.
Now, her hope is but an ember.
“In my heart, I don’t know that this is ever going to be solved,” she said Sunday.
But, given the approach of the anniversary, she wanted to try to stir up some publicity with yet another vigil, to be held at 6 p.m. Monday on Cashdollar in Forward. This time, two Butler County sisters who describe themselves as psychic mediums will be there to “do a reading” and see if any answers can be gleaned from the beyond.
“I’m going a little nutty, maybe. I want to believe that this could lead to something,” said Ms. Rausch, who has two other children.
Shawn’s father, Barry Baur, said Sunday he’s pegging his hopes on publicity, praying someone will come forward with something remembered — or something that can’t be forgotten.
“Maybe somebody has a conscience,” he said.
Meanwhile, psychics Suzanne Vincent and Jean McKenzie Vincent, both of Butler County, are banking on their connections to the “other side.” The sisters, who have built a following by appearing on TV shows and at community talks, are ready to do what they can to help, Suzanne Vincent said.
She said Sunday she had a reading with the Baur family about five years ago that led to some theories. But no arrests. She said she also recently has had visions that include a description and the initial “W.” She said she believes the on-site “reading” Monday with Ms. Rausch could lead to more information. Monday will be a first reading with someone from Scott’s family, Ms. Vincent said. Ms. Rausch said she will bring a picture of her son and an article of his clothing.
Ms. Rausch said she takes some comfort from the autopsy report on Scott, which she said showed that he died instantly.
“From how it was explained to me, he was hit and drug down the road a little bit, but he died instantly because his heart was severed,” she said.
Scott would have been in ninth grade at Seneca Valley that fall, a grade behind Shawn. The cause of Scott’s death was ruled blunt force trauma, Ms. Rausch said.
Mr. Baur said the cause of Shawn’s death was a crushed skull.
“It was so bad, we had to buy him a hat to have the casket open. But, there were no other injuries,” Mr. Baur said. “That’s strange to me.”
His personal belief is that someone attacked his son, striking him in the head with something.
“I think Scott was hit by a truck and then someone didn’t want a witness so my son was hit over the head. He was a fighter and he would have fought back if he could’ve but there were no marks on his hands,” he said.
The father acknowledged, though, that that’s just one theory. Another is that Shawn was struck by something protruding from a vehicle, like a sideview mirror.
“We really don’t know. It’s not so much that I want to know who did this as that I want to know how it happened,” Mr. Baur said.
Though both boys were drinking alcohol prior to their demise, authorities said publicly at the time that they were not drunk at the time of their deaths. Ms. Rausch said subsequent toxicology examinations showed no drugs in their systems.
"It's been 15 years and I don't know what to do anymore. Maybe this will help," she said of the pending vigil and psychic reading.
Shawn and Scott were on-and-off friends through their lives, both enjoying dirt bikes and quads and fishing and hanging out with their friends.
“Scotty was funny as crap and he had a beautiful smile,” his mom said.
Mr. Baur described Shawn as “my best friend. He was clean, outgoing, very strong. He liked girls, for sure, fishing, and dirt bikes. I do have good memories and that’s what I hang on to.”
Rewards for information about the deaths total at least $25,000.
Karen Kane: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 724-772-9180.
First Published July 16, 2017, 3:23pm
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