Though tips are pouring in about the whereabouts of John McLaughlin, the man accused of killing a popular Port Richmond bartender, police said yesterday they have not heard from anyone who has actually seen him.
Police issued a murder warrant earlier this week for McLaughlin, 36, the operator of McWhitey's Tavern at Venango and Mercer Streets, where Joseph Seamus O'Neill, 60, was found dead a week ago.
Homicide Sgt. Ronald McClane said detectives have received numerous calls from people suggesting where McLaughlin may be, but no one has seen him since the murder warrant was issued.
Both men were well-known in Port Richmond. O'Neill, a native of Ireland, bartended at My Blue Heaven, where he finished a shift the night of Jan. 2 before going to McWhitey's, where his body was later found.
Reports abound that O'Neill had hit the numbers in an illegal lottery, winning thousands, but police said if that was true, they do not believe it had anything to do with the murder.
McClane said it appeared the two had an argument over a trivial matter, but he would not elaborate.
Chief of Detectives Keith Sadler said authorities were pushing hard to find the suspect and that he would be caught.
"We're following up on a lot of leads," Sadler said. "I don't see where this guy can run."
Police believe O'Neill was beaten with a blunt object, possibly a baseball bat. His body was wrapped in a blue tarp in the bar basement.
O'Neill's family went looking for him Jan. 3 in Port Richmond because he did not return home from work. They saw his car parked near McWhitey's.
The relatives asked an employee at the bar, which was closed at the time, if they could look around, and they found O'Neill's body. The bar, ordered shut by city workers, has remained closed.
Anyone who knows the whereabouts of McLaughlin is asked to call homicide detectives at 215-686-3334.