Officers arrest and cost retired pastor in 1975 homicide of 8-year-old Delco – NBC10 Philadelphia

Disclaimer: The main points of this story are graphic and should disturb some readers.

Legislation enforcement officers introduced new particulars on Monday of the 1975 homicide of Gretchen Harrington in Marple Township, Delaware County.

Delaware County District Lawyer Jack Stollsteimer’s workplace mentioned he has filed fees in opposition to David Zandstra, 83, of Marietta, Georgia – a former church pastor – for his alleged position within the disappearance and homicide of 8-year-old Harrington, which occurred practically 50 years in the past.

“David Zandstra is a monster. He is each dad or mum’s worst nightmare,” Stollsteimer mentioned Monday. “He killed that poor lady.”

In keeping with courtroom paperwork, Zandstra was charged with murder, homicide, kidnapping of a minor and associated offences.

Harrington disappeared on August 15, 1975, whereas strolling from her house in Marple Township to a Bible faculty lower than a mile away.

Stollsteimer mentioned that right now Zandstra was a reverend at Trinity Christian Reformed Church, one in every of two church buildings Harrington repeatedly attended. As she walked to Bible Camp alone, Zandstra pulled up subsequent to her in a car and provided to drive her, Stollsteimer mentioned.

In keeping with Stollsteimer, Zandstra gave a press release to the police by which he admitted to taking her to a secluded place, telling her to undress after which, when she refused, he ejaculated in entrance of her earlier than beating her to dying together with his fists.

Harrington’s physique was found weeks later, on October 14 of that 12 months, in Ridley Creek State Park, greater than seven miles from her house.

“This man is evil. He killed this poor 8-year-old lady he knew and trusted in him. After which he acted like he was a pal of the household, not simply throughout his funeral and after, however for years,” Stollsteimer mentioned.

In a press release, Harrington’s household mentioned they had been “extraordinarily hopeful” that the particular person accountable for Gretchen’s dying can be held accountable.

“With the announcement of an arrest at this time, we’re hopeful that the particular person accountable for the heinous crime that was dedicated in opposition to our Gretchen might be held accountable. It’s tough to precise the feelings we really feel as we transfer nearer to justice. Gretchen was solely 8 years outdated when she was all of a sudden taken from us on her option to church on Friday August 15, 1975. her pal. She exuded kindness to all and was candy and delicate. Even now, when individuals share their reminiscences of her, the very first thing they discuss is how wonderful she was and nonetheless is… at simply 8 years outdated, she had a lifelong impression on these round her. Gretchen’s kidnapping and homicide endlessly modified our household and we miss her on daily basis. We’re grateful for regulation enforcement’s continued pursuit of justice and want to thank the police from the state of Pennsylvania for by no means stopping in her fixed seek for solutions. We would not be right here at this time with out them. As a household, we ask for privateness right now as we proceed to digest this info. Thanks on your understanding, love and continued assist. It means the world to us,” learn a press release from the household.

Moreover, the Christian Reformed Church of North America supplied a press release following Zandstra’s arrest.

“(W)e want to prolong our condolences to the household of Gretchen Harrington. We had been heartbroken to be taught of her dying. We’re additionally saddened to be taught {that a} CRC pastor has been arrested for the homicide,” the assertion learn. “We acknowledge that we reside in a damaged and sinful world, the place violence can occur anyplace – even inside our church buildings and by these we maintain to the best requirements. But we try to make our congregations locations of peace, welcome, hospitality and security for individuals who attend. As a denomination, we encourage all congregations to have secure insurance policies and procedures in place to assist stop abuse.”

Two authors with ties to the Philadelphia space lately printed a guide on cold-blooded homicide and officers mentioned Monday their analysis helped resolve the case.

Officers mentioned Zandstra is at present in police custody in Georgia, however is preventing extradition.

Contacted for touch upon the matter, the regulation agency representing Zandstra mentioned it was conscious of the fees in opposition to him, however made no fast remark.

This story might be up to date as new info turns into obtainable.

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