PELC, Tammy Lee

Summary of Details

Name: PELC, Tammy Lee
Address: 712 West 26 Street, Erie, PA 16508
DOB: 2 March 1959
Age: 20
Marital Status: Single
Date of Murder: Went missing night of 9 July 1979 (Monday)
Cause of death: Murder by strangulation
Employer: Country Fair Convenience Store
Position: Clerk
Date Found: 13 December 1979, approximately 5:00 p.m. (Thursday)
Location Found:  Shallow grave in the basement of 655 West 26 Street
Found by: Vincent AGOSTINO
Jurisdiction: City of Erie Police Department


A bright, young, beautiful 20 year-old girl went missing late Monday night on 9 July 1979.  She was last seen closing the Country Fair convenience store at 657 West 26 Street with a younger co-worker at about midnight. That was the last time she was seen alive except for her killer and one or more accomplices who likely assisted the killer, after, if not before her murder. Police believe that Ms. PELC walked back to an apartment she shared with another young woman where her purse and store smock were found. Her roommate was gone for the weekend. Family members concerned over Ms. PELC found her belongings inside of her unlocked apartment the day after her reported disappearance.

Shortly after PELC’s disappearance, her family retained the services of Erie private detective Daniel Barber, who previously achieved prominence in the unsolved murder of Debbie GAMMA. Mr. Barber provided key evidence that led to the successful conviction of Raymond PAYNE in that 1976 homicide. Erie Police and Daniel Barber worked closely together on the PELC case, when just over five months after her disappearance, her the body of Tammy PELC was found buried in a shallow grave in a dirt crawl space in the basement of a small apartment house adjacent to the Country Fair store where she worked. She was found buried face down with her hands tied behind her back with a cloth, and a cloth around her neck. Four fingertips painted with red fingernail polish could be seen protruding from the dirt. PELC’s high school class ring engraved with her initials was found on one of her fingers. Her death was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation.

The short life of Tammy Lee PELC

Born on 2 March 1959 to William and Eleanor Pelc in Union City, PA, Tammy was one of ten children.  She was a 1978 graduate of Union City High School where she was the captain of the cheerleader’s squad and active in the chorus and pep club.  She was crowned the school’s Winter Sport’s Queen in 1978.

After high school she moved to the city of Erie where she worked at the Country Fair convenience store at 26th and Poplar.  She was in the process of applying for her cosmetology license and lived with a fellow student at 712 west 26th street. Described by those her knew her well as a “straight arrow,” Tammy was a hard worker who was not into drugs. “She was not a party girl.” Engaged to be married, Tammy’s investigators ruled out Ms. PELC’s fiancé and a former boyfriend as suspects during the lengthy investigation, but developed one other suspect, and a possible accomplice who is believed to have murdered the young brunette.

The investigation

Shortly after the body of Tammy PELC was found, private investigator Daniel Barber and Erie Police investigators were confident that an arrest could be made quickly. Former Erie Police chief Sam GEMELLI told the media that police had a “prime suspect,” although asked the Erie Morning News to “temporarily withhold” information about the suspect until the investigation was finalized.

The identity of the man who is suspected of killing PELC and at least one accomplice is known to police investigators, this agency, and private detective Daniel Barber. Evidence suggests that he stalked women before PELC, and knew PELC because of “proximity.”