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Ambler Tavern Owner Killed in Home Invasion Robbery in Hilltown

Joseph Canazaro co-owned Finn McCool's in Ambler. Suspects believed to have fled in victims' pickup truck; described as armed and dangerous

Update, 5:03 p.m.

The last murder that occurred in Hilltown Township was in 1990 at 12 Key Drive, when Eric Motis stabbed his neighbor Louise C. Hoopes, 42, a secretary at Grand View Hospital, and her sons Douglas, 16, and Daniel, 14, in their beds. Motis, 26, committed suicide in prison in 1998. Motis was facing three life sentences after pleading guilty at trial in 1991.

Update, 4:23 p.m.

The Reporter reports the black pickup truck has been located in Upper Bucks County.

The truck has been located behind Quakertown Plaza Shopping Center on the 1400 block of West Broad Street in Quakertown.

Update, 4:14 p.m.

Chief Chris Engelhart has identified the victim as Joseph Canazaro, 48. Canazaro lived at the Swartley Road home with his girlfriend and two children.

Canazaro is the co-owner of Finn McCool's Tavern in Ambler.

Canazaro was born and raised in the Lansdale and Hatfield area, living on Franklin Street and Cindy Lane, respectively.

He has owned many businesses in Pennsylvania, and beyond, in his lifetime.

He was the co-owner of Finn McCool’s in Ambler, and still owned the property of the former Finn McCool’s on Penn Street in Hatfield, according to Montgomery County property records.

Canazaro also owned the property of the former Meineke Mufflers on North Broad Street in Hatfield, now M John’s Automotive, according to property records.

Canazaro was president of JOCANZ Inc., on West Fifth Street in Lansdale, a brick and stone masonry business. Allied Termite and Pest Control in Lansdale also operated out of the same building, of which Canazaro was principal. Canazaro also owned Masonry Enterprises Inc. in Chalfont, according to Manta.com.

The former Flanigan’s Boathouse in Warrington was also co-owned by Canazaro.

At one time, Canazaro had equity in a pier in Ocean City, NJ.

Canazaro had six bankruptcy hearings in November 2008 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, according to online documents. Various entities had filed liens against Canazaro’s properties, and he was seeking to unfreeze the assets.

These properties, which Canzaro formerly owned, are 2820 Valley Woods Road, Hatfield; 719 Harvest Hill Road, New Britain; 2260 Pileggi Road, Warrington; 2236 Pileggi Road, Warrington; and 201 Signal Hill Court in Northampton Township.

Earlier Story

A Hilltown Township man was killed in his home during a home invasion robbery on Friday morning.

The body of the victim, whose identity is being withheld by authorities, was found inside his home at 321 Swartley Road, a few hundred feet off Route 309 in Hilltown. 

Authorities believe the home invasion took place around 10:00 a.m. Friday, according to Hilltown Township Police Chief Chris Engelhart.

"Officers responded to an abandoned 911 call. While responding, the call was upgraded to a possible home invasion robbery," he said. "Officers arrived and checked the area and found the victim inside the residence deceased."

A woman and 12-year-old boy who were also home at the time of the robbery were bound in a separate area of the house from where the victim's body was found. 

They managed to free themselves and contact authorities at about 10:30 a.m. from a neighbor's house. A second child had already left for school when the attack took place.

"We're still trying to pin down the timeline on when [the suspects] got into the house and how long the occupants were held," Engelhart said. Police are "debriefing" the surviving victims, Engelhart said.

The suspects were described as a muscular Hispanic male, about five feet, nine inches tall, and a smaller Asian male wearing a black jacket and cargo pants. Both suspects were wearing masks and armed with handguns at the time of the incident.

They are believed to have fled in the victim's black Lincoln pickup truck, PA license plate ZCT9659, which belongs to the victims. They should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees the vehicle or the suspects should call 9-1-1 immediately, Engelhart said. 

"Obviosly, the occupants should be considered armed and dangerous at this point," Engelhart said.

Engelhart said police do not know how the suspects initially arrived at the property. Property records show the homeowner as Theodore Harrison Jr.

"There was no particular evidence of a struggle," Engelhart said.

Officials from the Bucks County District Attorney's office and a mobile crime lab unit remained at the scene on Friday afternoon. The FBI is also said to be assisting police with the investigation.

Engelhart said the suspects are believed to have stolen additional firearms from the residence. He would not confirm earlier reports that they had taken bank books or other financial information from the property.

"The scene is very fluid, we're following several leads," Engelhart said. "We believe some weapons were taken."

Police may release the victim's identity later Friday.

The woman and two boys are safe and being interviewed by police.

Police notified Pennridge School District about the incident. Schools were not placed on lockdown but were to keep children inside as a precaution and to monitor their entrances. Superintendent Dr. Robert Kish notified parents about the incident through the district’s AlertNow email system.

Patch editor Sarah Larson contributed to this report.

Earlier story and updates below.

Update 12:45 p.m. A mobile crime lab vehicle has arrived at the scene.

Update 12:26 p.m. Officials from the Bucks County district attorney's office have arrived at the scene.

Update 12:12 p.m. A man in a white Cadillac Escalade with "East Coast Hoist Inc." markings arrived at the property and identified himself to police as the owner. After a brief conversation with police, the man left. Bucks County property records indicate the property is owned by Ted Harrison. Harrison is also the owner and founder of East Coast Hoist Inc.

Update 12:06 p.m. Pennridge School District sent an email blast to parents that reads "We have been informed of an incident Hiiltown Township involving a possible home invasion. The district has been in communication with the Hilltown Township Police, who have advised us that a lockdown at this time is not necessary. However, as a precaution we are keeping students inside the buildings and will monitoring all entrances. The Pennridge Regional Police will also be making a presence in the area."

Initial story below.

WPVI-TV reports that one person is dead following a home invasion in Hilltown at about 10:30 a.m. today.

Reports on Montgomery County public safety radio indicated that police were looking for two individuals who may be connected to the incident.

One subject was described as male, about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, "broad shouldered" and "muscular."

The second was described as a smaller, Asian male wearing a black jacket and cargo pants.

The men are said to be armed and in a black Lincoln pickup truck. They may be on their way to a bank.

Police in Hatfield Township and Lansdale Borough were assisting Hilltown police in an investigation late Friday morning.

Police were called to the home in the 300 block of Swartley Road before 10:30 a.m. for a report of a home invasion robbery.

The victim and her boyfriend were tied up in the basement, according to unconfirmed emergency reports.

The two intruders, armed with handguns, reportedly fled in the victim's black Lincoln pick up truck with the victim's bank books.

may January 21, 2013 at 06:55 AM
I lived in Trevose for most of my teen years so my heart goes out to Joseph's family may they find the killers then he truly will be able to rest in peace. Prayers for the family & Brandi who knew Joey. Pay no attention to the cypher bullies they are cowards who hide behind their keyboards of the their computers.
NC January 22, 2013 at 09:19 PM
This dude owed so much money to various people and various companies n what not how can no one see that this wasn't a random burglary or a targeted one, it was a targeted HIT. So obvious but people just choose not to believe in that stuff anymore. Go find out his financial issues then tell yourself it wasn't a hit, this guy owed over 10 million bucks no way they were robbing him for money n petty shit duhhhh
John W. February 28, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Kathleen, it seems that you are so sure about a couple things: most Asian and Hispanic are illegally here; illegal immigrants are equal to criminals; to resolve issues and prevent future capital crime, such as this murder, is to drive out Asians and Hispanic. You are the reason that American became laughing stocks due to lacking of knowledge and logical thinking. Blame on modem American education system. That's why you are accounts payable for life. BTW, you don't know anything about Third World Countries. You don't know what a passport is.
John W. February 28, 2013 at 10:23 PM
I entertain my clients at Finn's McCool regularly and thought the owner was doing fine. If it is true that Joe owed so much to SOMEBODY, we all know the answer now. Organized crime should be viewed differently. General public should worry about random petty crime rate in the community.
Judy Brown June 20, 2013 at 07:17 AM
Home invasions are increasing rapidly. These thugs know that there is less of a chance getting caught burglarizing a home then robbing businesses. So stay safe, be vigilant, install deadbolts and keep alarm activated. If you don't have an alarm system try the United States Security Company Directory or USSCD for great affordable home security options.

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