Police: DNA leads to arrest of caretaker who drank $102k in Prohibition whiskey

south broadway manor
South Broadway Manor in Scottdale, Pa. Credit: Facebook

The former caretaker of a Westmoreland County mansion has been charged with allegedly drinking a stash of Prohibition-era whiskey worth more than $100,000 after DNA evidence lead to his arrest, according to a report from The Tribune-Review.

Police said John Saunders, 62, was last year renting a basement apartment in the South Broadway Manor Bed & Breakfast in Scottdale, Pa. and acting as a live-in caretaker for owner Patricia Hill.

Workers completing renovations found underneath the basement stairs nine cases of Old Farm Pure Rye Whiskey bottled in 1917 at the West Overton Distilling Co. Hill believes the liquor was hidden there during Prohibition.

Saunders helped Hill move the cases and dust them off several times, according to investigators. But when he moved out last March, Hill noticed about 52 bottles were empty, drained through holes drilled in their corks.

When police questioned Saunders, he reportedly denied drinking the lost liquor – which an appraiser valued at $102,400 – suggesting that maybe it had evaporated.

Investigators weren’t able to obtain a search warrant for Saunders’ DNA until late last year, when a profile obtained from his cheek swab allegedly matched DNA found on the mouths at least three of the empty bottles.

He is now charged with receiving stolen property and is due in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.


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