Western PA’s “Kill for Thrill” cop killer John Lesko given execution date

17 November 2022- Department of Corrections Acting Secretary George Little signed a Notice of Execution setting Dec. 29, 2022, for the execution of John Charles Lesko, who was sentenced to death in Westmoreland County. 

The law provides that when the governor does not sign a warrant of execution within the specified time period, the secretary of corrections has 30 days within which to issue a notice of execution.

All of this comes just months after Lesko’s appeal for an overturning of his conviction was thrown out by the US Court of Appeals. Lesko was convicted in 1980 of murdering multiple people across Western Pennsylvania, including a church organist and a police officer. Lesko’s partner, Michael Travaglia, died in prison five years ago of natural causes.

This execution will likely not happen, however, as Pennsylvania has not executed an inmate since 1999 during the Tom Ridge administration. Whether it is the governor who steps in or a local prosecutor remains to be seen.