Mother of Pa. Teen Killer Who Committed Suicide Files Lawsuit

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (EYT) — The mother of a Venango County teen who committed suicide two years ago in an Indiana County prison has filed a federal civil lawsuit against officials at the institution.

Karen Kapp, the mother of Zachary James Proper, alleges that she warned officials and his physicians at the State Correction Institution at Pine Grove that he wasn’t taking his prescription medications and was a threat to commit suicide.

An official at the U.S. District Court of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh confirmed the filing Wednesday.

Proper was found dead in his cell at SCI-Pine Grove Sept. 8, 2014, while serving a 35- to 80-year for killing his grandparents Oct. 7, 2012, when he was just 13.

According to a previous story published by, a prison official said Proper hanged himself using a sheet tied around his neck.

Proper pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder before Venango County Judge Oliver J. Lobaugh on August 26, 2013. He later agreed to a plea deal, pleading guilty on both counts of third-degree murder. The plea agreement would have kept Proper in prison for 17 1/2 to 40 years for each count. The sentences were to run consecutively.

The shootings took place at about 4p.m., Sunday, October 7, 2012, in Sandycreek Township, Venango County, when Proper allegedly became angry at his grandparents, George and Dorothy Fross, for calling his mother a derogatory name.

Proper was imprisoned at SCI-Pine Grove Jan. 16, 2014. Officials at the prison said the suicide was the first since it had opened in 2001.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and SCI Pinegrove Superintendent Eric Bush are among the defendants in the lawsuit.

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