Suspect charged four decades after Pennsylvania teenager’s death: ’40 long years’

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A Pennsylvania man has been charged with murder and kidnapping more than 40 years after the murder of an 18-year-old woman, prosecutors announced Friday.

Investigators have long suspected that two men named in Friday’s announcement played a role in the death of Denise Marie Pierson, who was reported missing in April 1981 after she failed to return home after visiting to a friend in Marcus Hook. His body was found in July 1984 near the railway tracks at Marcus Hook about 300 yards from the home of one of these suspects.

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On April 14, 1981, Denise Pierson failed to return home after visiting a friend in Marcus Hook.

Delaware County Attorney’s Office


Wayne Anthony Walker, 58, was charged on Thursday with multiple counts of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy. It was unclear from court records whether Walker, who was being held in county jail on unrelated assault charges, had an attorney.

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Wayne Anthony Walker in 1981

Delaware County Attorney’s Office


Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer and state police investigators also announced that Peter Horne, who died in 2013 while incarcerated on unrelated harassment charges, was a co-conspirator. in the death of the young woman. Investigators said two other people were still being investigated for their potential roles and offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to additional arrests.

“For forty long years the family of Denise Pierson has searched for answers regarding the death of their loved one. We hope today’s announcement will bring a measure of healing and closure that they have been denied for too long. “, Stollsheimer wrote in a declaration.

Over the years, investigators have questioned Walker, Horne and other suspects, including after they said Walker gave details of the murder to a former cellmate while incarcerated. And after a call made to a trauma center claiming responsibility for Pierson’s murder was traced to Horne’s home. Over the years, physical evidence including batons known as “blackjacks”, ropes, clothing and jewelry have been recovered, but investigators felt they did not have enough evidence to charge the men with Pierson’s death.

Investigators reopened the case in 2018 and, upon reviewing the evidence, rediscovered a 6-inch folding knife that had been found with Pierson’s remains. They also re-interviewed acquaintances of the suspects and began to piece together the fact that several of the suspects had over the decades revealed details of the murder to these potential witnesses.

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Peter Horne in 1984

Delaware County Attorney’s Office


In 2021, soldiers contacted a forensic expert from the Florida Institute of Forensic Anthropology and Applied Sciences at the University of South Florida who re-examined photos of the remains and other evidence and was able to show that Pierson had a wound. piercing along his neck next to her. jawbone of a sharp weapon matched with the folding knife. Investigators say the knife and new autopsy information helped corroborate statements from potential witnesses.

“As with any investigation into unsolved homicides, the passage of time should not be seen as a burden on the investigation, but rather as an advantage. Relationships are often seen to change over the years. Witnesses who have may have been reluctant to come forward in the past, are now more willing to help.People whom suspects confided in before because they were trustworthy may not have the same loyalty 40 years later, and c That’s exactly what we found with this investigation,” Private First Class Andrew Martin said.

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