Lou Vignone (right) stands beside groom Paul Stemplewski on his 1997 wedding day.
By Jamie Wiggan
A long-time friend of slain mailman Lou Vignone is hoping to promote a positive message on the back of his senseless murder.
Seeing tributes paid by Rennerdale and Collier residents, who tied blue ribbons to their mailboxes following Vignone’s Oct. 7 killing, Paul Stemplewski has encouraged friends and family in other neighborhoods to follow suit and spread a message of hope.
“I saw it in [Collier] so I wanted to replicate it in McKees Rocks,” Stemplewski said. “I think this was an awesome thing to do to honor Lou. I have blue ribbons going up in Florida, Texas, Georgia and New Mexico. I want this to go nationwide.”
Vignone was shot to death while on his Collier-area mail route by a man who told authorities he thought Vignone attempted to poison him. Eric M. Kortz has been charged for the murder in federal court.
Vignone and Stemplewski first met through the Sto-Rox marching band while in the eight grade, and remained close until Vignone’s death. Stemplewski described Vignone as a friend who was always willing to drop everything to help another in need.
After Stemplewski’s brother died, for example, he decided to move back to Pittsburgh to help care for his mother, so Vignone flew to Texas and the two drove for 24 hours with two dogs and a truck full of possessions.
Now, he feels bound to return the favor.
“I have to do for him what he would do for me,” he said. “We’re never ever going to stop it… but it’s time to start thinking about why all the gun violence?”