08-02-2012, 06:59 PM #1
PA - Shaun Ritterson, 20, Bucks County, 10 June 1977 'Girl on Church Hill'
FBI now involved in Ritterson murder investigation
The nation's top forensic experts have taken an interest in the unsolved murder of Shaun Eileen Ritterson.
“We're actively involved with the FBI National Laboratory,” said Matt Weintraub, Bucks County's chief of prosecution. “They're testing some material for us and we're hopeful that forensics are going to push this case in a direction that will lead it to a conclusion.”
Ritterson, 20, of Bristol, was found dead on the side of a Buckingham hillside on June 12, 1977. She had been gutted like a deer, investigators said, possibly while she was still alive.
The case was nearly forgotten until last year, when Calkins Media reporters began asking questions about Ritterson's slaying, prompting the DA's office to reopen the investigation and empanel a countywide task force dedicated to solving it.
More at link...with photos and video....
Links also to the 5 part series on case
Last edited by bessie; 02-11-2013 at 11:24 PM. Reason: snipped to comply with 10% copyright rule
08-14-2012, 05:52 PM #2
The Girl on Church Hill: A Murder Mystery
The killer mutilated her body in unimaginable ways and dumped her on a wooded hillside, leaving her partially hidden from the road that wound down from a church and cemetery at the top.
She lay, naked and face down, on a bed of dead leaves; crumbled bits of tanned vegetation tangled in her frizzy brown hair. There were two empty beer cans and a sunflower seed pouch ditched nearby; trash from another day. Her last day on the hillside was Sunday, June 12, 1977. It was a warm and clear day, with temperatures in the high 70s and a slight breeze blowing through the woods as the birds, squirrels and ants picked away at the world.
Yet, while all those calls were coming in to police, at least one person had the sick feeling that he knew who the body on Church Hill was.
On the afternoon of June 13, 1977, a 49-year-old Bristol Township man made his way down Route 13 to 927 Spring St. in Bristol, where his daughter lived. He pulled up and got out just as two young men and a young woman were heading into his daughter’s apartment building.
He stopped them a moment.
“Have any of you seen my daughter lately?” he asked. None had, but they thought maybe she’d just gone to the Shore, as she had in the past, without telling anyone................
At 7:25 p.m. Monday night, Francis Ritterson, his wife, Nancy, and Francis’ younger brother, Harry, walked into the county courthouse in Doylestown looking for county detectives. And 25 minutes later, they were being ushered into Doylestown Hospital’s morgue.
“Yes,” they said, after viewing the body. It was their 20-year-old daughter, Shaun Eileen Ritterson.
Last edited by bessie; 02-11-2013 at 11:21 PM. Reason: snipped to comply wit 10% copyright rule
08-14-2012, 06:12 PM #3
The Girl on Church Hill: Woman’s death haunted her uncle
Harry Ritterson, 75, is leaning on a weed trimmer in the front yard of his Easton home when a reporter arrives and asks to talk to him about his niece, Shaun Eileen Ritterson.
He frowns, bows his head, and ushers the reporter over to a small bench under a red maple tree. Harry’s live-in girlfriend, Karen Koplin, stands nearby and occasionally adds to the conversation.
“She was my favorite,” he starts. “She was a good kid. We got along good together.”
Harry is silent for about 30 seconds. He looks down at his gnarled, very tanned hands, which are curled in his lap. When he looks up and begins to speak again, there’s anger in his voice.
“You know, I got blamed for that.”
Last edited by bessie; 02-11-2013 at 11:20 PM. Reason: snipped to comply with 10% copyright rule
08-23-2012, 08:53 PM #4
The Girl on Church Hill: 'Person of interest very much alive'
Detectives weren't the only ones who suspected Harry Ritterson gutted his niece and dumped her on a hillside in Buckingham.
Nancy Ritterson was reluctant to talk about her daughter Shaun's murder. Even after all these years, she said, the pain is raw. She can't and won't find the words to talk about what was done to the 20-year-old during a summer weekend in 1977.
But when told her brother-in-law, Harry, has been interviewed about the killing and denied any involvement, she found the words.
“Oh, he did?" Nancy Ritterson said............
“I was shocked,” she said about realizing Harry was a suspect. Harry Ritterson has never been charged in connection with the murder.
Harry Ritterson's offer to provide a DNA sample seemed like a prime opportunity to close his chapter of the case, to clear his name once and for all, as he has told a Calkins Media reporter he wants to do.
But after telling a reporter in May he would cooperate with investigators and make himself available for tests, he apparently changed his mind. Citing health concerns, Harry declined follow-up interviews about the case and rejected an invitation to come to the county courthouse in Doylestown with the reporter to meet detectives.
Harry's girlfriend, Karen Koplin, sent the reporter an email on his behalf this month, asking that he be left alone so he could concentrate on recuperating from a recent bout with cancer.
“Harry at this time doesn't really want to be involved in the investigation. He has been through too much already. Harry has total faith in the county detectives. They will get the job done,” Koplin wrote...........
Last edited by bessie; 02-11-2013 at 11:27 PM. Reason: snipped to comply with 10% copyright rule
09-04-2012, 02:18 AM #5
The Girl on Church Hill: Readers calling DA's office with tips
Nancy Ritterson was recalling tips, theories and things overheard in bars over the years about her daughter’s murder.
As the matriarch talked about the things she’s heard about Shaun’s death, she recalled them by milestones, not dates............
Matt Weintraub, chief of trials and prosecution for the DA’s office, said he had several calls, including some from the Rittersons, when he got into his office Monday morning.
“We received a number of calls immediately after the first part of the series,” Weintraub said. “Now we have the momentum.”
Weintraub and a team of Bucks County detectives are actively investigating the murder after the reporters reviewed the case files and put together a synopsis for them. And while the stories brought back all the painful memories of Shaun’s death, they have also renewed the Rittersons’ hope that there may be justice for Shaun.
Weintraub said any tip helps.
“There were a lot of calls connecting some of the dots for us that we would need connected to put together a successful prosecution and I was encouraged by that,” Weintraub said Wednesday. “When you have a case that’s this old and unsolved, you are naturally going to have some gaps and the nature of those tip calls are filling in some of those gaps for us.”.................
Last edited by bessie; 02-11-2013 at 11:29 PM. Reason: snipped to comply with 10% copyright rule
09-21-2012, 07:28 PM #6
The Girl on Church Hill: Retracing Shaun's movements to find her killer
Shaun Eileen Ritterson was lonely, high and would soon be dead.
It was Friday, June 10, 1977, and she was standing alone by the bowling machine, a drink in her hand and drugs in her veins, according to friends. The Capri on Emilie Road in Bristol Township was packed with young people drinking and smoking and flirting. Rasputin, a local cover band, was rocking out on stage.
Several of Shaun’s friends were there. When questioned by police later, most said they saw her standing by herself, looking depressed. They meant to walk over and check on her, they said, but the bar was too packed and the music too loud..............
Friends said Shaun’s absence could have meant that she’d hitchhiked to the Shore, met someone at a bar, or stayed at a friend’s home. She was a free spirit who came and went as she pleased.
Shaun’s family didn’t immediately miss her either. She had chosen to stay home while her parents and siblings went camping in northeast Pennsylvania that weekend.
That Monday night, after they were brought to the morgue to identify Shaun’s body, the Rittersons and Shaun’s uncle, Harry Ritterson, sat with detectives, telling them what they could.
More at link......
Last edited by bessie; 02-11-2013 at 11:31 PM. Reason: snipped to comply with 10% copyright rule
10-16-2012, 06:42 PM #7
Task force formed to solve decades-old murder after reporters' dig into case
.............County detectives and prosecutors could have kept the files sealed, but they were also intrigued. Could Ritterson’s killing be solved, after all these years?
Following much discussion, prosecutor Matt Weintraub, the county’s chief of prosecution, struck a deal with the reporters: They could review all the evidence they wanted, including police notes, photos, physical evidence and eyewitness accounts. (They were not permitted to make copies.).............
After reading the synopsis, Weintraub reopened the case and put together a countywide task force of law enforcement officials devoted to solving Ritterson’s murder..................
Just this month [June], prosecutors confirmed that they are confident enough in the direction the new investigation is taking that they have ordered DNA testing and are employing other investigative tools in the hopes of bringing Ritterson’s killer to justice.................
"The further we (as the human race) grow away from the natural world, the quieter the natural world becomes and the more pathological we become as a culture."........Bernie Krause
The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation......which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.......George Washington
01-29-2013, 06:08 PM #8Registered User
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Primary suspect in 1977 murder of Bristol woman dies
January 29, 2013
If Harry Ritterson knew anything about his niece's brutal, unsolved murder, he took that information to his grave.
The 77-year-old Easton man passed away Sunday night in a Warren County hospital, following a bout with prostate cancer.
Prosecutors on Tuesday confirmed that Ritterson was the main suspect in 20-year-old Shaun Eileen Ritterson's 1977 death, a killing that was chronicled in this newspaper's special investigation series: The Girl on Church Hill. And they say his death will not stop them from trying to find out who killed Shaun, who lived in Bristol Borough.
“A lot of corroborating evidence pointed in Harry Ritterson's direction,” said Matt Weintraub, the county's chief of investigations. “With a little more forensic investigation, we think we can solve this case.”
02-02-2013, 06:14 AM #9Enough Is Enough!
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I'd like to see them test his DNA anyway. Very suspicious that he wouldn't give it freely, when it actually came time to give it up.
How would that actually work, legally? Would it be easier for the cops to get a warrant for his DNA now?
And why couldn't they have done that while he was alive, if he was their main (and it seems only) suspect?
02-10-2013, 12:42 PM #10DNA testing may finally prove whether a family member is guilty of the 1977 murder of a Pennsylvania woman, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said last week the investigation remained active. A sample of Ritterson's DNA obtained legally after his death is being tested to see whether it matches hairs found with the victim's body. Such a test was unavailable to investigators in 1977, he said.
If the DNA matches, it will add to what Weintraub says is a collection of circumstantial evidence against Harry Ritterson: witness accounts that he visited the site where the body was found while his niece was still missing; a report that he wanted a romantic relationship with her; and conflicting statements he made last year to reporters about his whereabouts on the weekend of Shaun Ritterson's death.^^^^^ My posts are all IMO, JMO, MOO unless I have included a link^^^^^
02-10-2013, 04:49 PM #11
Interesting case. Gruesome - and the fact that he declined to give DNA is very telling.
One question - the bouncer/ doorman from the bar - how is he related to the suspect? Would he have known him- or perhaps he's from the 'other' side of the family?
02-11-2013, 01:10 AM #12
Police in Pennsylvania are hoping DNA evidence will help them solve a ghastly 36-year-old homicide in which a woman was found nude and gutted on a hillside.
The prime suspect in the 1977 killing of 20-year-old Shaun Ritterson, whose organs had been removed through a gaping wound in her abdomen, was an uncle who one witness said was stubbornly pressuring his niece to have sex with him.
The Bucks County District Attorney's Office announced in January that Harry Ritterson was the main suspect in the case, and detectives had obtained a search warrant to obtain DNA from the 77-year-old at his house in Northampton County. But he died of cancer before police could get a sample.
Investigators managed to obtain DNA from the suspect before his funeral, and they’re hoping to compare it against the DNA in brown head hairs that did not belong to Shaun Ritterson, but were found on her body and on a bloodied nightgown and bed sheets found in her apartment.
Hope this case is solved so her family know the truth about what happened to Shaun.
02-11-2013, 09:00 PM #13Registered User
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- Oct 2012
Very interesting and sad case. It is local to me, but I didn't live here back then. I've learned a bit about what the town was like back then. I had never heard that area referred to as Church Hill. Even though the church up there is well known, I have only ever heard of the "hill" being called Buckingham Mountain.
The video posted with the articles (http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/loca...ec9c5909.html_ ) shows the exact spot where the body was found. The prosecutor/narrator shows a that there is a stone "cairn" on the spot, which they think was erected by someone who was mourning Shaun's death, possibly even her murderer. He thinks that it has been there for quite a while and has been visited by others because they found old beer cans around it. I would bet that her uncle could not have managed to get to the spot himself in recent years, given his age, but maybe long ago when he was more spry.
02-11-2013, 11:07 PM #14
Toscaxyz, the link in your post doesn't work, but I think this one will.
The Girl on Church Hill: A Murder Mystery - YouTube
The cairn is interesting. I wonder if it was placed there by a friend? Former lover? Or the uncle?
The manner in which she was killed, "evicerated" with a large knife, doesn't sound like a homicide that occurred accidentally in a struggle. The killer was probably enraged, maybe obsessed with Shaun and felt she had wronged him. But did he stop there? In the years that followed, were there other "Shauns"? The uncle's DNA might close the books on more than just one murder.
Last edited by OkieGranny; 04-12-2015 at 02:50 AM. Reason: fixed broken link__________________________________
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02-12-2013, 07:28 AM #15Registered User
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- Oct 2012
Thanks for posting a working link, bessie!
I do hope that the authorities have looked for similar cases since this one is so brutal. I also didn't notice anywhere in the description of the evidence that they ever found the internal organs.
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