A former US pastor who allegedly abducted a young woman in Pennsylvania has been arrested more than 50 years before murdering her.
“Justice has no expiration date. Whether it happened 50 years ago or five minutes ago, people across the Commonwealth can rest assured that law enforcement will not rest until justice is served. This case has been investigated by generations of detectives, all of whom owe a debt of gratitude for never giving up,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Jonathan Sunderlin said in a news release.
Little Gretchen Harrington was eight years old when she disappeared in August 1975. A few months later – in October – his bones were found at Ridley Creek State Park.
David Sandstra, 83, the prime suspect in the case since its inception, was finally arrested after police obtained a statement from a key witness. She was the best friend of the defendant’s daughter. The latter would have indicated in her diary at the time that she believed David Zandstra was the culprit.
After initially denying seeing the victim on the day of her disappearance, the former pastor admitted to giving her a ‘lift’ and taking her to a nearby bush.
“The defendant stopped the car and told the victim to undress. When she refused, he punched her in the head. He thought the victim was bleeding to death. He attempted to cover her body and fled the scene,” the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
David Zandstra now faces charges of first-, second- and third-degree murder, as well as kidnapping and possession of an instrument of crime.
“This heinous crime changed a family and a community forever. Today I can finally announce to you his killer […] He confessed his crime. Justice has been delayed, but we are proud and grateful to finally be able to provide answers to the community,” said Jack Stolzheimer, the attorney in the case.