Pastor David Zandstra charged with cold case murder of 8-year-old girl Gretchen Harrington

A former pastor has been charged with the cold-case murder of an eight-year-old girl who disappeared whereas strolling to Bible camp practically 50 years in the past.

David Zandstra was arrested on Monday for the murder of neighbouring pastor’s daughter Gretchen Harrington on 15 August 1975 in Marple Township, Pennsylvania. He has been charged with prison murder, murder of the primary, second, and third diploma, in addition to kidnapping of a minor and the possession of an instrument of crime.

In keeping with police, following his arrest, Mr Zandstra had admitted to providing Gretchen a journey and taking her to a wooded space.

“The defendant acknowledged that he had parked the automotive and requested the sufferer to take away her clothes. When she refused, he struck her within the head with a fist. The sufferer was bleeding, and he believed her to be useless. He tried to cowl up her physique and left the world,” police mentioned in a press release.

“The murder of Gretchen Harrington has haunted members of legislation enforcement since that horrible day in August 1975. The households of victims typically say that their lives are ceaselessly altered into the ‘earlier than’ time and the ‘after’ time,” mentioned District Legal professional Jack Stollsteimer.

“Gretchen’s murder created a “earlier than” time and an “after” time for a complete neighborhood – and for a complete county. This heinous act left a household and a neighborhood ceaselessly modified. In the end I can announce at this time that her killer – David Zandstra – has admitted to his crime. Justice has been a very long time coming, however we’re proud and grateful to lastly be capable of give the neighborhood a solution.”

Gretchen Harrington was killed at eight years outdated in Pennsylvania

(Delaware County District Legal professional’s Workplace)

On that August morning in 1975, Gretchen left her residence on Lawrence Street in Marple at roughly 9.30am to stroll to her summer season bible camp.

The camp used each the premises of the Trinity Church Chapel Christian Reform Church (“Trinity”) and the premises of The Reformed Presbyterian Church (“Reformed”) subsequent door. The defendant was the pastor of Trinity, and Gretchen’s father was the pastor of Reformed.

Gretchen’s father realised his daughter was lacking when she failed to look at Reformed, and her disappearance was reported to the police shortly afterwards.

Her physique was discovered two months later in Ridley Creek State Park, however regardless of the defendant being interviewed across the time of her disappearance, no arrest was made.

Police made a breakthrough within the case practically 50 years later, after a person who would typically attend sleepovers at Mr Zandstra’s home mentioned claimed had been woken one evening to seek out him groping her. She instructed police that she recalled {that a} youngster in her class was practically kidnapped twice and he or she believed on the time that Mr Zandstra was the perpetrator.

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