On July 24, The Pennsylvania State Police, United States, released the indictment of an 83-year-old former pastor for the murder and kidnapping of a girl in 1975.
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David Zandstra was arrested on July 17 in Cobb County, Georgia.after he confessed to killing Gretchen Harrington, the daughter of a former colleague, who was only 8 years old at the time, according to the outlet CNN.
Criminal homicide, first, second and third degree murder, as well as kidnapping of a minor and possession of an instrument of crime
According to the above, the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office stated that the man’s confession would have been given after he learned of a writing written by a woman, when he was barely 10 years old. His identity is unknown.
Therefore, the man turned himself in, being charged with «criminal homicide, first, second and third degree murder, as well as kidnapping of a minor and possession of an instrument of crime,» said Jack Stollsteimer, district attorney.
“Justice has been a long time coming, but we are proud and grateful to finally be able to give the community an answer,” he added.
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How did the event happen?
On August 15, 1975, Gretchen Harrington, who was 8 years old, left her home at 9:30 am for a summer Bible camp.
According to the press release, that day the children carried out their activities in one of the camps, taking into account that it had two places, Trinity Church Chapel Christian Reform Church and The Reformed Presbyterian Church.
According to the above, on the morning of August 15, 1975, the children were transferred from Trinity to Reformed at 10 a.m. m by David Zandstra, by means of a bus.
Upon arriving at the Reformed camp, the victim did not arrive with his companions, for which his father became concerned, alarming those who attended there. In addition, Defendant’s announcement of the disappearance to the Marple Police Department at 11:23 a.m.
However, the search efforts were reflected two months later, given that on October 14, 1975, the skeletal remains were found in Ridley Creek State Parkmanaging to be identified as the victim.
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After what happened, the event shocked the entire community and the county, for which the Police identified a witness, who stated, through an interview, that he had seen the girl talk to the driver of a bus. Although he «denied seeing the victim on the date of her abduction,» according to the press release.
What have you said after almost 50 years of what happened?
As of January 2, 2023, the case was still active, so the investigators managed to find the parade of CI#1who had been said in the complaint in the disappearance of the victim.
According to the records, CI#1 was best friends with the defendant’s daughter, who attended sleepovers at Zandstra’s house frequently. The woman recorded, in the middle of the interview, that she had been touched by the defendant while she was sleeping at a sleepover, because the English woman was touching her.
In addition, she stated that after what happened she had told her friend, who told her that he sometimes did that, so his sexual acts were normal.
But that’s not all, since by that time a classmate had had two kidnapping attempts, so CI#1, through her diary, wrote that the person responsible for these acts could possibly have been her best friend’s fatheraccording to the press release.
According to the foregoing, the investigators traveled to Marietta, Georgia, where the culprit resided, to meet with him, last July 17, 2023. During the meeting, Zandstra would have denied his role in the murder of Gretchen Harrington; however, when she mentioned what happened with CI #1, he acknowledged that he had seen her victim walking alone on Lawrence Road.
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This case has been investigated by generations of detectives, and they all owe a debt of gratitude for not giving up.
Seeing her alone, the man offered to take her to a wooded area. In addition to stating that he had asked the girl to take off her clothes, but when she refused, he hit her on the head, causing the minor to bleed, which made the defendant decide to hide her body and abandon it, after believing that she was dead.
«This case has been investigated by generations of detectives, and they all owe a debt of gratitude for not giving up,» said Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Jonathan Sunderlin.
What will happen to the defendant?
As described in the press release: «A DNA sample has been collected from the defendant and lost to the Combined DNA Index System (Codis) so it can be compared to DNA collected in open cases in Pennsylvania and across the country«.
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