Murder Charges Filed in 1983 Susquehanna County ‘Cold Case’
Attorney General Linda L. Kelly and State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced today that charges have been filed in a shooting death that occurred in New Milford Township, Susquehanna County, on Nov. 13, 1983. John David Walker, 52, of Montrose, PA, has been arrested and charged with murder in the death of his estranged wife, Lynda Walker.
“The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) investigators deserve a lot of credit for their work on this case,” said AG Kelly. “They showed great patience and persistence in their pursuit of justice for Lynda Walker.”
“I am extremely pleased that justice is finally being served for Lynda,” Noonan said. “It certainly shows the tenacity of the investigators at the Pennsylvania State Police and the Attorney General’s office who were involved with this case.”
John Walker was a police officer in November 1983 in Great Bend, PA. In the years since, he has been a police officer in several other Pennsylvania communities and held other jobs as well. He is currently a part-time police officer in Silver Lake, Montrose Borough.
The OAG initiated its investigation in February of 2010 at the request of Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg, based on a conflict of interest. Evidence was gathered by the Pennsylvania State Police and presented by the OAG to the Statewide Investigating Grand Jury.
The challenges of investigating a case that was almost 30 years old were substantial, according to Kelly. However, through the use of the grand jury, murder charges have now been filed against Walker.
The grand jury heard evidence that Lynda Walker died from a single close-range gunshot wound to the chest. John Walker claimed at the time that he came home to find her lifeless body in his bed, with his gun lying next to her. The coroner, who was not a trained forensic pathologist, initially ruled the death a suicide in 1983.
State-of-the-art forensic science is what helped to crack this case, according to Kelly. In June of 2011, at the request of the grand jury, Lynda Walker’s body was exhumed. Dr. Isidore Mihalakis, an experienced forensic pathologist, conducted an autopsy. Dr. Mihalakis looked at the path the bullet took as it passed through Lynda Walker’s body and examined other evidence. Dr. Mihalakis concluded that the death of Lynda Walker was not consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Rather, the manner of death was homicide, according to Dr. Mihalakis.
In addition, the grand jury heard from several other witnesses who provided valuable information.
“Our investigators talked to many people and worked on fitting all the pieces together with forensic evidence,” said Noonan. “When that evidence was completed, we were in position to move ahead and make an arrest.”
Walker was arrested early today by the PSP. He was brought before District Justice Jodi Ellis Cordner in New Milford, PA for arraignment. He is being held without bail. His preliminary hearing has been set for Nov. 5 at 1 p.m. The case will be prosecuted by John J. Flannery, Jr. and E. Marc Costanzo of the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Section.
Kelly praised the state police for their work on this investigation and their dedication to pursuing justice no matter how old the case.
“I extend my sincere condolences to Lynda’s family and friends during this difficult time,” said Noonan. “I’m very hopeful that this arrest will give the family some relief, knowing that a suspect has been charged with this murder.”