Victim’s body was never discovered, but DNA evidence was discovered in defendant’s van
HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that a former Clinton County man was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for the murder of a woman he had an affair with whose body was never discovered. This case is the first homicide to be tried in Clinton County since 2004 and represents the Office of Attorney General’s commitment to prosecuting cold cases.
Loyd Groves, 69, of Fourth St, Beaver, was charged with criminal homicide decades after human blood was found in the back of his van following disappearance of Katherine Heckel in 1991. On July 15, 1991 Heckel left for lunch and failed to return. Coworkers described this as “unusual” and recalled an argument between the victim and Groves that morning.
“After 27 years of Katherine Heckel’s disappearance, I hope this brings closure and peace to the Heckel family,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Today, 27 years after her murder—justice has been served and Loyd Groves will be incarcerated for his actions.”
At trial, coworkers of Heckel and Groves testified that a visibly angry Groves watched the victim leave the plant on the day of her disappearance. Another coworker of Heckel’s testified that it was unusual for her to come back from lunch late and that she “she would never leave her children”. Heckel’s children testified that she had discussed her plans for dinner with them the morning before she disappeared.
Advances in DNA science revealed a blood stain found in the defendant’s van was identified as the victim’s blood through forensic analysis.
“Thank you to the Pennsylvania State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their strong law enforcement collaboration and perseverance in this case,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “They spent many hours searching for the victim at the time of her disappearance and have stayed with this case since 1991. I am pleased for the victim’s family with this result and that today’s sentencing fits the crime.”
Groves was sentenced by Senior Judge Kenneth Brown of Lycoming County. A jury found Groves guilty of third-degree murder in December 2018.
This case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye of the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecution Section.
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