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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

[PA] Police Sgt Walker's wife Lynda did NOT commit suicide 30 years ago. Now he gets short jail term.

Lynda Jean (Conrad) Walker.
Birth: Feb. 24, 1959, USA
Death: Nov. 13, 1983

...Montrose Pennsylvania Police Sgt. John David Walker was arrested in 2012 for the 1983 murder of his wife Lynda Jean Conrad Walker. Lynda's death had been ruled a suicide even before her autopsy was performed. In 2011 the grand jury had Lynda Walker’s body exhumed, she was re-examined, and found to have died by homicide. Sgt. Walker was allowed a plea deal in 2014, escaping trial and a possible life sentence, pleading "no contest" to voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to serve 2 to 4 years in a county jail. Information from Sgt. Walker's next wife helped police reopen the case. She said Walker told her that investigating police had no evidence BECAUSE he obtained the evidence police seized from the scene many years ago. He told her that he destroyed some of the evidence by burning it, and he also sold / was allowed to sell the 45-caliber pistol murder weapon...



Susquehanna County Cold Case Comes to a Close
wnep.com
Amanda Kelley
February 28, 2014

NEW MILFORD – A former police officer will now serve two to four years for murdering his wife in Susquehanna County.

John Walker pleaded no contest Thursday to the murder that happened more than 30 years ago.

This plea came as a surprise to many who knew the victim, Lynda Conrad Walker.

In 1983 her death was first ruled a suicide, but decades later an autopsy proved that she in fact didn’t shoot herself.

Walker pleaded no contest, which means he doesn’t admit guilt, but he doesn’t fight the charges either.

Even so, for some, that plea isn’t enough.

It’s been more than 30 years since Lynda Conrad Walker was found dead, a gunshot wound to her chest, a death originally ruled suicide in Susquehanna County.

Walker’s childhood friend says years later she still can’t believe her friend is gone.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. She was a very close and dear friend with many of us and it’s heartbreaking,” said Lynda’s childhood friend Cathy Dunlap.

Now Lynda’s husband John Walker pleaded no contest to her murder.  He was charged in the cold case in 2011 after a new autopsy.  Now he’ll be locked up for two to four years.

The victim’s mother Norma says this case has taken its toll on her.

“It’s difficult, you have your ups and downs , you think things are going to go the way you want them to and the next thing you know there not,” said Norma Conrad.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office brought charges in the cold case and says, “We believe the conviction achieved in this sad tragedy is an appropriate resolution based on the investigative facts available. Our condolences to the victim’s family and may they now have closure.”

This 30-year-old case comes to a close on the same week that Lynda Conrad Walker would have turned 55.

Her family and friends say this case will never truly come to an end.

“We waited a long time for this day, but this isn’t exactly what we wanted.  Not that we wanted a long trial or anything, but we wanted justice for her and her family,” said Dunlap.

Lynda’s friend had hoped for life in prison or the death penalty.  Her mother says this sentence is not for anyone to judge.

“The only thing I can say is after 30 years at least he has served something,” said Conrad.

Now Lynda’s mother looks toward the memorial she has for her daughter in her backyard, thankful for the fight others fought on Lynda’s behalf.

“I just appreciate how all of the people have been working on this case and just stayed with it.  They’ve been so kind to me and I wanted some way to be able to thank them,” said Conrad.



Ex-cop enters no contest plea in estranged wife ’s 1983 death
Susquehanna County Independent; Weekender (Montrose, PA) -
By Staci Wilson
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A 30-year-old murder case came to a close Thursday in Susquehanna County when a former sergeant with the Montrose police entered a no contest plea in the 1983 death of his estranged wife .

John Walker, 54, of Montrose, entered the plea to one count of voluntary manslaughter and was immediately sentenced by Specially Presiding President Judge Linda Wallick Miller, 43rd Judicial District, to serve 24-48 months in a county correctional facility, followed by five years probation.

There is no admission of guilt in a no contest plea.

Following a grand jury investigation, Walker had been charged in October 2012 with first degree murder in the Nov. 13, 1983 shooting death of his estranged wife Lynda Conrad Walker at the couple’s New Milford Twp. mobile home.

Lynda Walker died from a single, close-range gunshot wound to the chest.

As part of the plea deal, the murder charges were dropped in exchange for the voluntary manslaughter plea.

Defense attorney Paul Ackourey said his client has already spent 16 months in jail, and with the minimum sentence, Walker will be incarcerated for another eight months.

“He came into this process looking at a life sentence which was probably the principle motivating factor in entered in the (no contest) plea,” Ackourey said. “His family needed closure; as well as the victim’s family needed closure.”

Arresting officer Tpr. Greg Deck told the court he had been in contact with the victim’s mother, Norma Conrad, and that she was satisfied with the agreement.

Judge Miller said the resolution avoiding a trial would “save the victim’s family from having to open up 30 years of grief.”

The death had initially been ruled a suicide in 1983 by John Conarton, Susquehanna County Coroner at that time.

Walker was employed at the time of the shooting as a police officer in Great Bend. In the years since, he has been employed by several other municipalities, including Silver Lake Township and Montrose Borough. His most recent rank held on the Montrose force was sergeant and he had formerly served as the chief of police in the borough.

Walker was suspended from the Montrose police force after his arrest in 2012.

The Office of Attorney General initiated its investigation into Lynda Walker’s death in February 2010 at the request of Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg based on a conflict of interest. Walker had served as a Susquehanna County Task Force detective under the supervision of the district attorney.

Evidence in the investigation was gathered by the Pennsylvania State Police and presented by the Office of Attorney General to the Statewide Investigating Grand Jury.

In 1983 Walker claimed that he came home to find his wife ’s lifeless body in his bed, with his gun lying next to her.

In June 2011, at the request of the grand jury, Lynda Walker’s body was exhumed from the West Lenox Church Cemetery in Lenox Twp.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Isidore Mihalakis conducted the autopsy; 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.

According to the 15-page grand jury presentment, which was accepted by Judge Miller at Thursday’s plea hearing as the basis of facts in the case, Lynda Walker’s body was found in her bed and a cocked .45 caliber handgun was partially in her right hand and a bullet wound to her left chest.

In a 1983 interview with police , Walker said the couple had been separated since July of that year but had agreed to meet that day at their home.

Walker told police the two argued after he told her he was filing for divorce and she threatened to kill herself.

Grand jury witnesses testified that they did not believe Lynda Walker was suicidal. Testimony also contradicted Walker’s 1983 statement to police about his whereabouts at the time of the death.

Laurence Braungard, who was also served as a police officer in Great Bend in 1983, told the grand jury that Walker had attended classes on suicide investigation at Lackawanna College prior to Lynda Walker’s death.

The case was prosecuted by John J. Flannery, Jr., of the Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Section.

During the preliminary hearing Flannery argued, “There were two people at that trailer, one was the defendant, and one was deceased.”
  

Family & Friends React to Plea in Cold Case Death
pahomepage.com
02/28/2014

After 30 years, a cold case in Susquehanna County is now closed.

Two years after being charged, former Montrose police officer John Walker entered a plea in connection to the death of his estranged wife in 1983.

In 1983, Lynda Walker died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Her death was originally ruled a suicide.

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office took another look at the case, exhumed her body and investigators brought criminal charges.

"Her birthday was this week. She would have been 55," Norma Conrad said.

Sitting in her New Milford home, Norma Conrad has a little bit of closure.

After John Walker pleaded no contest Thursday to voluntary manslaughter for the death of Lynda Conrad, he was immediately sentenced to two to four years in prison.

"I want to thank everybody who's involved in this case," Norma Conrad said. "I want to thank them in some way. I'm not sure how I can do it. They've all stayed by me and stayed with it all these years."

Lynda's childhood friend Cathy Dunlap wished there had been a trial.

"I wanted to look at him right in his eye and say: Why did you do it? Why did you do it and two-to-four years is nothing compared to what we've gone through the last 30 years," Dunlap said.

Having already served 16 months in jail, Dunlap is angry that Walker could possibly be eligible for parole by the end of this year.

"It's not fair. He's been able to have children, do things, just live life and this has all been taken away from her," Dunlap said.

For Norma Conrad, she would have liked Walker to say "I'm guilty" but the no contest plea means he doesn't admit guilt but admits there is enough evidence against him.

A religious woman, Norma Conrad says John Walker's true judgment won't come on this Earth.

"There's a judge higher than an authority on Earth and he's had to live with that and he will continue to live with that," Norma Conrad said.

John Walker was initially charged with first degree murder in 2012. He could have faced life in prison.

Besides his two-to-four year sentence, he will also have to serve five years probation.

EXCERPTS FROM 2012 NEWS:

Murder charges lodged against Montrose cop

Scranton Times-Tribune
By Staci Wilson
Published: October 24, 2012
A Montrose police sergeant faces murder charges stemming from a grand jury investigation into the 1983 death of his estranged wife. John Walker, 52, Montrose, was charged Wednesday, Oct. 24, with one count of murder by Trooper Greg Deck. Attorney General Linda L. Kelly and State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced that charges have been filed in a Nov. 13, 1983 shooting death of Lynda Jean (Conrad) Walker. The death initially had been ruled a suicide in 1983 by John Conarton, the Susquehanna County coroner at that time. Mr. Walker was arraigned Wednesday morning by Magisterial District Judge Jodi Cordner in New Milford. Bail was denied. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Nov. 5. "The Pennsylvania State Police investigators deserve a lot of credit for their work on this case," said Ms. Kelly. "They showed great patience and persistence in their pursuit of justice for Lynda Walker"... The Office of Attorney General initiated its investigation in February of 2010 at the request of Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg, based on a conflict of interest. Evidence in the then-27-year-old death investigation was gathered by the state police and presented by the Office of Attorney General to the Statewide Investigating Grand Jury... In June 2011, at the request of the grand jury, Mrs. Walker's body was exhumed... [Forensic pathologist Dr. Isidore] Mihalakis concluded that the death of Mrs. Walker was not consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Rather, the manner of death was homicide... According to the 15-page grand jury presentment, Mrs. Walker's body was found in her bed with a cocked .45 caliber handgun was partially in her right hand and a bullet wound to her left chest. In a 1983 interview with police, Mr. Walker said the couple had been separated since July of that year but had agreed to meet that day at their home. Mr. Walker told police the two argued. He told her he was filing for divorce and she threatened to kill herself. Grand jury witnesses testified that they did not believe Mrs. Walker was suicidal. Testimony also contradicted Mr. Walker's 1983 statement to police about his whereabouts at the time of the death. Mr. Walker's second wife, April Harvey, also testified that she was engaged in a relationship with Mr. Walker in the months that followed his separation from his wife. Mr. Walker and Ms. Harvey married in 1985, divorcing 19 years later. http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/murder-charges-lodged-against-montrose-cop-1.1393172

Pa. police officer accused of killing wife in '83
sfgate.com
October 24, 2012
[Excerpts] A part-time police officer in northeastern Pennsylvania was charged Wednesday with killing his estranged wife in 1983, a shooting death that had previously been classified as a suicide. The state attorney general's office said John David Walker, 52, of Montrose killed Lynda Walker, based on new evidence obtained by exhuming her body last year and from conducting fresh interviews with him and witnesses... According to a grand jury report, Walker said back in 1983 that the day of her death, the two of them, separated for several months, had an argument at the mobile home where he lived in New Milford. He said he told her he planned to file for divorce, and she threatened to kill herself. He said he then went for a drive, making at least three stops before returning home and finding her body... The new investigation turned up contradictions in his story, according to prosecutors, including a neighbor who said his car was in the driveway when she heard a single gunshot. State police said Walker did not attempt to render aid to his dead wife or check her for vital signs, and that he called the home of a police dispatcher upon discovering her body, rather than dialing 911. His gun was on the bed by her side. A trooper interviewed Walker in March 2010. "Throughout his interview, Walker never expressed any remorse that he had left Lynda alone," the grand jury wrote. "Walker failed to deny that he had killed his wife until he was walking out the door of the barracks to leave."... http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Pa-police-officer-accused-of-killing-wife-in-83-3978060.php

Murder charges filed in Susquehanna County cold case from 1983

WPMT-TV
October 24, 2012
[Excerpts] ..."The Pennsylvania State Police 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," State Police Commissioner Frank 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."... 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... The Coroner, who was not a trained forensic pathologist, initially ruled the death a suicide... "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... http://www.fox43.com/news/wpmt-susquehanna-county-cold-case-murder-charges-filed,0,3975114.story

Police Officer Arrested in 1983 Cold Case Investigation
pahomepage.com
By: Eric Deabill
Updated: October 24, 2012
[Excerpts] A police officer from Susquehanna County is on the other side of the law tonight... State police filed murder charges against John Walker of Montrose. They say he shot-and-killed his first wife back in 1983. Police originally thought the death of Lynda Walker was suicide. Her family and friends didn't believe that designation... Eyewitness News spoke with the mother of the victim by phone Wednesday afternoon. She had just learned of the charges and was unaware that the charges were about to be filed... Investigators say part of the reason why Walker was not initially charged was because of the Susquehanna County coroner in 1983... http://pahomepage.com/fulltext?nxd_id=285242

Man charged in wife's 1983 death
Associated Press
Posted: October 28, 2012
[Excerpts] ...April Harvey told the grand jury she and Walker had been having a sexual relationship at the time of the shooting - they subsequently were married for 19 years and have three children together. Harvey testified Walker came to the McDonald's restaurant where she worked the night of the shooting and told her they had argued, and he was afraid. Walker did not disclose that encounter to investigators in 1983, the grand jury said. Harvey told jurors, according to the investigative report, that Walker said police had "no evidence as he obtained the evidence police seized from the scene many years ago. Walker told Harvey that he destroyed some of the evidence by burning it. Walker also sold the .45-caliber pistol"... http://articles.philly.com/2012-10-28/news/34779028_1_grand-jury-new-evidence-police-dispatcher

Mother of Cold Case Murder Victim Speaks Out

Newswatch 16
by Sofia Ojeda
October 25, 2012
[Excerpts] ...The mother of the victim talked exclusively with Newswatch 16. It was a very emotional interview as Lynda Walker’s mother Norma Conrad talked about her daughter and the new murder charges against Lynda’s husband. Norma said even after all these years, she never believed her daughter would hurt herself, and she hopes that justice will finally be served. It’s been a long time coming, said Norma Conrad about the new murder charges filed in the death of her daughter Lynda Walker. Conrad said she’s so grateful the investigators never gave up on finding the truth about her daughter’s death. “The ones who came and told me yesterday, the law enforcement officers, I just thanked them and thanked them and thanked them for doing what they’ve done and all the time they’ve spent” ... Lynda’s mother said she always knew her daughter didn’t do it. “I just know she never would, she never wanted to kill anything. why would she want to do it to herself? She wouldn’t want to. She just wouldn’t” ... According to court papers, investigators started looking into case again in 2010, when John Walker’s second wife contacted police with statements Walker made to her about Lynda’s death. Walker told his second wife police did not have evidence because he burned it. As investigators re-interviewed witnesses, they said their stories directly contradicted John Walker’s accounts. Investigators said one of the major pieces of information that didn’t add up was the coroner’s ruling. Lynda Walker’s death was ruled a suicide the day before an autopsy was even done. The original autopsy was also done by a funeral director and a general practitioner. Walker’s body was exhumed in 2011, and a new autopsy was done by two board-certified forensic pathologists. The pathologists said if it were a suicide, the position of the gun would not have been where it was found, and it was almost impossible for Walker to shoot herself in the direction her body was found. Walker’s death was then ruled a homicide... http://wnep.com/2012/10/25/mother-of-cold-case-murder-victim-speaks-out/

Defense Disputes Evidence In Cold Case Murder

by Sofia Ojeda
November 28, 2012
[Excerpts] ...Prosecutors on Wednesday presented evidence before the case could proceed to trial. The defense is already disputing much of it. John Walker’s defense attorney calls the commonwealth’s case all smoke and mirrors... The attorney general calls Walker a liar and says there is more than enough evidence to prove he is the killer. John Walker had nothing to say as he headed into district court in Susquehanna County. The former police officer was brought in, wearing handcuffs and shackles, to face a murder charge for the death of his wife Lynda Conrad Walker...Lynda’s brother, also in court, always felt she would have never hurt herself. “I always felt that he was guilty but never really had proof in my head a hundred percent, and after today, I feel very confident a hundred percent proof to me, I just hope the court comes out with same answers,” says Lynn Conrad, Lynda’s brother. The prosecution agrees. The attorney general calls John Walker’s story a pack of lies. He said Walker has changed his story from his original statements to police, and the autopsy done by the forensic pathologist showed the way the gun was angled could not be discharged with Lynda’s right hand. “The defendant has clearly given two varying versions of events. He denies being present at the scene when clearly eyewitnesses who have nothing to gain, no dog in this fight, put him there, put his vehicle there,” says John Flannery, Senior Deputy Attorney General... http://wnep.com/2012/11/28/defense-disputes-evidence-in-cold-case-murder/
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality justice delayed is justice denied fatalities murder alleged suicide said suicide pennsylvania state politics]

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