Beating death of church organist probed

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An elderly church organist who played piano for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for 20 years was beaten to death in his home the day before his retirement party, police said Friday.

Squire Haskin, 75, died from several wounds to the head, apparently made with a blunt instrument, police said. His body was found about 7:30 p.m. EDT Thursday in the living room of his home.


Sgt. Edwin Gorski said dried blood was found in the victim's nose and mouth. He said there was no sign of forced entry into the house - the front door of the house was slightly ajar and the back door was unlocked.

Gorski said the contents of the house had been moderately disturbed, and detectives found an empty jewelry box and a bedroom dresser that appeared to have been moved.

Haskin, who had lived alone for several years, was organist and choirmaster at the First Presbyterian Church for nearly 50 years.

His body was found by a choir member who had gone to Haskin's home to find out why he was late for rehearsal, authorities said.

Several neighbors told police they heard high-pitched screaming coming from Haskin's home early Thursday evening, but they thought it was two cats fighting.


William Samford, associate pastor of the church, said he had talked to Haskin about 6 p.m. Thursday.

Haskin, the official pianist for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for 20 years, was scheduled to be honored for his many years of service to the church at a dinner Friday night, Samford said.

Pastor Gil Horn said Haskin's house had been burglarized five times over the past seven years, but said Haskin was never home when the break-ins occurred.

Haskin, who had studied at Rochester's Eastman School of Music, had previously served as an organist at a Rochester church and staff painist at a Rochester radio station.

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