Robbie Elizabeth Boyer of Fair Oaks Street in McKees Rocks is wanted in connection with the overdose of her 10-month-old grandson and is accused of exposing her other two grandchildren to drugs.
By Elizabeth Perry
Michele Pritchard said she tried to warn people about Robbie Boyer’s house on Fair Oaks Street before the woman’s 10-month-old grandchild overdosed on heroin.
Pritchard said she called Allegheny Children, Youth and Family Services, or CYF, to report Boyer’s activity two years ago, when she saw Boyer smoking a crack pipe while holding a grandchild in her lap. Pritchard said nothing ever came from her call.
“All of this has been preventable,” Pritchard said. “This is just tragic.”
Pritchard lives next door to Boyer, a neighbor whose behavior caused her to install eight cameras around her house and keep her own grandchildren away out of fear of the dangerous activity going on next door.
“It’s just one house that creates this,” Pritchard said.
On July 31, Boyer’s 10-month-old grandson overdosed on heroin. The baby was revived on the scene with naloxone and taken to a nearby hospital, where he was listed as stable. Fentanyl, needles and heroin were found in Boyer’s car and home. On Aug. 4, an additional warrant was filed after the two other children in Boyer’s care, a 3-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl, tested positive for exposure to cocaine, according to the Allegheny County Police. Pritchard identified the other two children as Boyer’s grandchildren.
Pritchard said Boyer would leave needles and empty bags that had contained heroin out in the street and Boyer’s boyfriend sold drugs from the porch. With the drugs, there was also violence. A pistol whipping took place next door, Pritchard said.
Boyer would sublet to people engaged in criminal activity and there were always people coming and going, Pritchard said.
Pritchard had sympathy for Boyer’s daughter, the mother of the 10-month-old and the two other children who were exposed to drugs.
“I think when you love your mother, you don’t want to believe she would ever hurt your children,” Pritchard said.
Pritchard’s own daughter, Courtney Pritchard, lives in the neighborhood, and they both want to stay, but they do not feel safe.
“We have seen two adults overdose, the police have been called. Then it takes the baby overdosing,” Courtney Pritchard said.
Both Pritchards have been desperate to remove Boyer and sought to contact the landlord about evicting her, but they were unable to locate the owner of the property. The numbers provided for the company led to dead ends. Courtney Pritchard said the landlord has not been around to examine the property at all.
Vincent Incorvati of Coraopolis, is the landlord who rented to Boyer. Incorvati said he owns multiple properties and that he visited Boyer’s rental at least once a month. He was aware of her issues with addiction but said in all his dealings with her she’d been great and never treated his people with disrespect.
“Who in that town doesn’t have a vice?” Incorvati asked.
As long as Boyer paid the rent and didn’t destroy the property, there was nothing he could do to break her lease, Incorvati said, and he would have to let her continue living there. Policing his tenants was not his job, and if the Pritchards had issues with their neighbor he recommended they keep filing police reports.
McKees Rocks Police Chief Rick Deliman said there was a call associated with the address prior to the baby’s overdose, from May 5, but he wasn’t able to elaborate on the circumstances because it was connected to an ongoing investigation.
Deliman said CYF only notifies the police in cases when there are criminal charges. He was not aware of involvement by the agency.
In Pennsylvania, landlords are not legally culpable for the actions of their tenants, but an ordinance exists in the township of McKees Rocks that holds tenants to a three strikes rule, according to Megan Turnbull, borough solicitor.
Tenants have to be cited, go before a magistrate and be convicted three times before they are banned from the property, Turnbull said.
Turnbull said the District Attorney has the authority to declare a property a public nuisance.
At a McKees Rocks Borough meeting, Courtney Pritchard spoke out about her family’s ordeal. Council President Archie Brinza said he knew Incorvati and had gone to high school with him. He reassured the Pritchard family he’d contact the landlord on their behalf.
Council Member Frank McQuillan said he also knew Incorvati, as they’d gone to school together, his sister was friends with the man and he’d even rented from him before. McQuillan said Icorvati and his brother both own properties and had the policy of not caring what tenants did, as long as they paid the rent on time.
“They should be more stringent. I just think they should’ve been more responsible, just care more about who they put in their properties,” McQuillan said.
Incorvati bought the rental unit on Fair Oaks because he used to live in the neighborhood as a child, and he lamented the area had changed.
“The village of Stowe was a paradise. Now it’s a war zone,” Incorvati said.
He lamented the influx of Section 8 housing and projects to the area. Incorvati does not rent to people eligible for Section 8 housing, he said. However, he did confirm Boyer was part of a mental health program that did cover her rent. When asked if he thought he was profiting from the problem due to his approach to renting, Incorvati said, “I am profiting off of it, but what choice do I have?”