Former pastor charged with homicide of woman in Pennsylvania practically 50 years in the past | US Information

A former pastor has been charged within the US with the kidnapping and homicide of an eight-year-old woman practically half a century in the past.

Prosecutors say they’ve charged 83-year-old David Zandstra, of Marietta, Georgia, in reference to the demise of Gretchen Harrington, from Marple in Pennsylvania.

Gretchen disappeared in August 1975 whereas strolling from her house to a summer time bible camp. Her stays have been present in October that yr in a close-by state park.

The id of her killer has remained a thriller for the final 48 years.

Mr Zandstra, who was the pastor of the church which hosted the summer time camp, was interviewed in October 1975 over Gretchen’s demise, however denied seeing her on the date she was kidnapped.

Nonetheless, Delaware County District Legal professional’s Workplace mentioned on Monday Mr Zandstra had “admitted” Gretchen’s homicide after being confronted with proof that he sexually assaulted one other woman across the similar time.

Gretchen Harrington, from Marple, Pennsylvania, disappeared in August 1975 while walking from her home to a summer bible camp. Her remains were found in October that year in a nearby state park. Pic: Delaware County District Attorney's Office
Gretchen Harrington disappeared in August 1975 whereas strolling from her house to a summer time bible camp. Pic: Delaware County District Legal professional’s Workplace

“In the end I can announce in the present day that her killer – David Zandstra – has admitted to his crime,” mentioned District Legal professional Stollsteimer.

“Justice has been a very long time coming, however we’re proud and grateful to lastly be capable to give the group a solution.

“The homicide of Gretchen Harrington has haunted members of regulation enforcement since that horrible day in August 1975.

“This heinous act left a household and a group eternally modified.”

Lieutenant Jonathan Sunderlin of the Pennsylvania State Police added: “Justice doesn’t have an expiration date.

“Whether or not against the law occurred 50 years in the past or 5 minutes in the past, residents can trust that regulation enforcement is not going to relaxation till justice is served.

“This case has been investigated by generations of detectives, and so they all are owed a debt of gratitude for by no means giving up.”

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Mr Zandstra has been charged with legal murder, homicide of the primary, second, and third diploma, in addition to kidnapping of a minor and the possession of an instrument of crime.

Delaware County District Legal professional’s Workplace says it has submitted paperwork to extradite Mr Zandstra from Georgia to Pennsylvania.

A witness within the preliminary investigation informed police that they had noticed Gretchen talking with the driving force of both a inexperienced station wagon or a two-tone Cadillac the day she went lacking.

The case had gone chilly till January this yr, when police interviewed an alleged sufferer of Mr Zandstra, who accused him of sexually assaulting her throughout a sleepover when she was ten years previous.

She additionally recalled {that a} baby in her class was practically kidnapped twice, and wrote in her diary in 1975 that she believed he was the probably perpetrator.

Mr Zandstra informed detectives he picked up Gretchen in his inexperienced station wagon on the morning of her disappearance and took her to a close-by wooded space, the place he parked the automotive and requested her to take away her clothes.

In line with the district lawyer’s workplace, Mr Zandstra admitted he struck her after she refused and, believing she was lifeless from the blow, tried to cowl up her physique.

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