Unknown Joan Marie Rasperger Killer- Pennsylvania- 1977 Aug 20, 2016 1:46:33 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Aug 20, 2016 1:46:33 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: triblive.com)
The unsolved murder of 15-year-old Joan Marie Rasperger, whose remains were found in some Salem Township woods in 1977, has never been a cold case to her mother, Barbara.
And it's no longer a cold case for the state police at the Kiski Valley barracks, who have reopened the 39-year-old investigation into the death of the Slickville girl.
“There's not a day goes by that it doesn't bother me so much, thinking that someone who did that to her is out there,” said Rasperger, who still lives in Slickville. “It's hard for me.”
Almost four months after Joan Marie's disappearance, two boys who were checking animal traps near a creek discovered her skeletal remains in a wooded area near Route 819, about 15 feet off a well-worn path regularly used by parishioners who walked to St. Sylvester Church.
The girl was identified through dental records and her clothing.
No one knows how she died. An autopsy was inconclusive because her body was so decomposed, and an official cause of death was never established, according to documents from the state police Criminal Investigation Assessment Unit.
“It's kind of bothering me now, to be honest,” said Trooper James Daggett, who has been working on the case for about a year. “I'm just trying to drum up some scuttlebutt and some talking.”
Daggett said he's started to re-interview people connected to the case.
“I'm really hoping that someone will know something,” he said.
Rasperger last saw her daughter at their First Street home as Joan Marie left for a field party near St. Sylvester Church. Others there were the last to see her alive, when she left on a walk along Main Street to a friend's house.
Her mother hopes for new information that will help her find closure after nearly four decades.
“She was a good girl,” Rasperger said.
Joan Marie's murder sent a scare through the Slickville area, according to Tribune-Review reports from Nov. 23, 1977. Residents said they were keeping their doors locked and their children indoors in the evenings.
Less than a month later, in December 1977, the body of another girl, 17-year-old Margaret Mary Hughes, was found near Lauffer Mine Road, less than 2 miles from Slickville. Wade Leroy Lockwood, who lived in the township, was convicted of her murder.
Investigators sought links between the Hughes case and Rasperger's but could not make a connection, according to news reports from the time.
In 1995, police arrested an Indiana County man, Ronald Weiss, who ultimately was convicted in the 1978 murder of a third girl about 10 miles away, Barbara Bruzda, 16, of Tunnelton, Indiana County. Bruzda and Rasperger were classmates at Saltsburg High School.
Bruzda's body was found in southwestern Indiana County on Oct. 23, 1978, about six months after she died from a blow to the head, authorities said.
In 1997, as Weiss was awaiting prosecution, Rasperger told the Tribune-Review that she did not recognize his photo and had never seen him in town. State police looked for similarities between the killings but couldn't find a link to Weiss in the Rasperger case.
Daggett said he is surprised no new information has been uncovered about Joan Marie.
“After all these years, still no one is talking, and I find it hard to believe that no one knows anything about this,” he said.
State police are asking anyone with information to call 724-727-3434. Callers may remain anonymous
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