A former pastor is charged with murdering an 8-year-old girl nearly 50 years ago

Former pastor David Zandstra, 83, has been arrested and charged with murdering an 8-year-old girl, Gretchen Harrington, in Pennsylvania nearly 50 years ago.

Case background: Harrington disappeared on Aug. 15, 1975 on her way to summer bible camp, with her remains found two months later in Ridley Creek State Park.
* Despite a long-running investigation, the perpetrator was never found until now, causing years of uncertainty within the local community.
* The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office announced Zandstra’s arrest and confirmed he had admitted to the crime.

The accused’s admission: After initially denying knowledge of what happened to Harrington, Zandstra, now resident in Marietta, Ga., reportedly confessed to offering her a ride, assaulting her, and leaving her body in the woods.
* “We are gonna bring him here to Delaware County. We’re gonna try him. We’re gonna convict him. And he’s gonna die in jail,” District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer stated.
* The charges laid against Zandstra include criminal homicide, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, third-degree murder, kidnapping of a minor, and possession of an instrument of crime.

Eyewitness account: Investigators interviewed a source who recalled suspecting Zandstra, a pastor at one of the churches sponsoring the summer bible camp the victim was attending, of being a likely kidnapper.
* This witness also reported that Zandstra had inappropriately touched her during a sleepover at his home.

Investigation update: Prosecutors are now preparing to transport Zandstra from Georgia to Pennsylvania to stand trial.
* Authorities are also investigating the possibility Zandstra may have sexually assaulted other victims.
* A DNA sample from Zandstra has been taken and will be compared to evidence from open cases across the country. Anyone with additional information about Zandstra’s activities is being asked to contact the Pennsylvania State Police.

View original article on NPR

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