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Crime News Breaking News

Pennsylvania Man Accused Of Raping, Strangling Elderly Woman In Her Home In 'Heinous' Murder

Convicted sex offender Kristopher Gartrell allegedly forced Virginia Barbour to show him the location of all her valuables before he tied her up, raped her repeatedly and then killed her.

By Jill Sederstrom

A Pennsylvania man has been accused of raping, strangling and killing an 87-year-old woman the day before Thanksgiving prior to allegedly attempting to burn her house down.

Kristopher Gartrell, 48, a convicted sex offender, allegedly sexually assaulted Virginia Barbour twice then stole guns, more than $1,000 worth of coins and Barbour's car, according to the Evening Sun.

"This is one of the most heinous murders and related assaults I have ever seen," Adams County District Attorney Brian Sinnett said according to the local paper.

Pennsylvania State Police discovered the body after Barbour's cleaning lady and friend Dorothy Koontz came to the house Wednesday morning around 9:30 a.m. and noticed the house had been ransacked.

Pennsylvania State Police later found Barbour's body wrapped in a sheet and shoved under a bed.

Nine guns were also found in the bedroom, along with gas cans.

Police said the house smelled like gas and discovered several spent matches along with two "accelerant" patterns on the floor indicating the attacker had tried to burn down the house, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by the Gettysburg Times.

Police apprehended Gartrell at a local hotel on Friday after several neighbors came forward with information that led police to talk with Shelia Schriver, Gartrell's girlfriend.

She told police she knew about the alleged crime, and admitted she followed him to a parking lot where they left Barbour's vehicle, the Gettysburg Times reports, adding that she had been too afraid to come forward because Gartrell had reportedly threatened to harm her children and parents.

Eventually she led authorities to his whereabouts, where police discovered items stolen from the home, including women's panties and several guns.

After he was apprehended, police said Gartrell claimed he entered the home through an unlocked door and made Barbour show him where she kept her valuables before he tied her up and raped her repeatedly.

Gartrell has been charged with criminal homicide, kidnap to facilitate a felony, forcible rape, arson, burglary, robbery, possessing a firearm when prohibited to do so and theft by unlawful taking. Gartrell has past convictions for criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and kidnapping in the state of South Carolina. He is listed on the South Carolina sex offender registry.

Dean and Nancy Tate, Barbour's neighbors, told the Evening Sun they had been living near the victim for more than 40 years and often visited her at her house and offered to help her out.

"We were devastated," Nancy Tate said.

[Photo Credit: Adams County Adult Correctional Complex]

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