BARRETT TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Investigators in the Poconos need help cracking a cold case that shook a small community decades ago. Thursday marks 46 years since a man was found murdered outside the once-popular Buck Hill Inn in Barrett Township. Starting this month the former hotel is being torn down, renewing interest in the case.
“It’s the first time I had seen anyone killed or shot,” recalls George Traugh.
George Traugh worked at Buck Hill Inn in the ’60s and ’70s when the upscale hotel was in its prime. He also volunteered with the local ambulance company. On September 8th 1970, Traugh was paged for an emergency outside his job.
“I walked into the main lobby and asked if anything was going on, or there was someone injured or something. And they said well the police are down on the road leading up to the front of the hotel,” says Traugh.
Traugh raced to a taxi cab in the driveway and found 52-year-old John Leonard’s lifeless body inside.
“We got there and he was slumped over the steering wheel in the front seat. And there were three small holes in the back of his head,” he recalls.
Leonard was a taxi cab driver for Mick’s Motors in Cresco. State Police say the day of his murder, Leonard was called to Buck Hill Inn to pick up a customer.
Traugh remembers, “it’s just an eerie, weird feeling to know somebody you know, which I did know him a little bit, is someone you now saw dead. Was killed, was murdered. “
Leonard’s five children and the shaken community wanted answers. But 46 years later, investigators still have none to give.
“There’s been leads over the years, people that have been looked to, but nothing that’s ever been to the point where an arrest was imminent,” says Craig Vanlouvender, State Police criminal investigator.
With the Buck Hill Inn set to be demolished beginning this month, Traugh says all he’s left with is memories. He hopes nobody forgets the friendly family-man John Leonard.
“You’ve heard people talk about it. And it still comes up,” says Traugh.
State Police say someone knows what happened to John Leonard and are once again asking anyone with information to come forward. Call (570) 839-7701 with information.