Lancaster County’s Most Notorious Unsolved Case
45 years on, will we ever find out who killed Lindy Sue Biechler?
Lindy Sue Biechler via pennlive.com
Lindy had spent that Friday doing what she loved. She’d been tying large ribbons to bunches of poinsettias, getting ready for Christmas in the florist where she worked. Just a few hours later, the young woman would be brutally murdered in her apartment, making her case one of the most frustrating mysteries in true crime history.
Lindy and Phil had married just 15 months earlier in October 1974. They were about to move to a new home, as Lindy was desperate to get a dog and Phil wanted more space to create his artwork at home.
19-year-old Lindy had been at Landis Flowers and Gifts for around six months and adored working at the florist. She got on well with the owner, Bob, and had a real eye for creating beautiful bouquets, which got her out of doing the administration role she’d originally been employed to do.
At 5.15 pm on the 5th of December 1975, Lindy left work and drove from the florist to Phil’s workplace at Hertz Rent-a-Car. He was working at the rental place while studying art at Millersville University, to pay the bills and that’s why Lindy was visiting him. Paycheque in hand, she headed to the Commonwealth National Bank to pay in the cheque and from there she went to John Herr’s Village Market. She bought four bags of shopping and drove home to Spring Manor Apartments, arriving around 6.30 pm.
Lindy was found by her aunt and uncle a little while later. The door to her apartment was open and Lindy was on the floor in a pool of blood. The coroner later reported that she’d been stabbed with a large knife 11 times, and many of the wounds were to her neck. She’d fought her attacker hard until the end, but the only evidence in the apartment was a man’s footprint and a drop of blood that they weren’t sure belonged to Lindy.
Phil was devastated, as was anyone who knew the vibrant young woman. No one could understand who would’ve done something so vicious to their Lindy.
“There’s a lot of possibilities I’ve played in my mind. Maybe some kind of psycho or weirdo got in there. But I think one thing we can make absolutely cement is that it was someone both of us knew…” — Phil Biechler in Intelligencer Journal.
The investigation by Manor Township Police Department began quickly and started with Lindy’s friends and family. From the beginning, the police knew that Lindy had a stalker. One of her family members told investigators that Lindy thought she was being watched and followed by a man, but they knew nothing more than that.
Over the next few weeks, police asked the public for help while investigating the people around the victim. Lindy’s boss Bob Aument and her husband Phil were questioned about their whereabouts the night Lindy was killed and were asked to take a polygraph test to rule them out of the enquiry. Meanwhile, they also asked witnesses to come forward if they owned a dark coloured American made car, as it was reportedly double-parked outside the Spring Manor Apartments that night.
Fairly early in the investigation, State police were brought in to help with the case. Between the two forces, they interviewed over 300 people, including those who barely knew Lindy, in the hope of finding a lead.
The investigation continued but with little to go out, the police were chasing their tails. It wasn’t until December 1976, a year later, that the biggest clue arrived in the post. Lindy’s gravestone had been vandalised and painted with red paint. No one knew who was responsible but one person was willing to own up to the crimes.
Marked ‘urgent’ the letter arrived at the Manor Township Police Department and was addressed to Chief Sheeler.
A copy of the letter written to police by Lindy’s alleged killer via Lancasteronline.com
The letter read:
“hi sheeler Just Eats up your heart knowing you havn’t caught me yet, still around, Lindy’s marker on her grave just turned me on like she did, and the way she looked all bloody, like the paint on her Marker, the scratch and nick marks represent the knife stabes. Count them. you wondered if the guy at the gas station in Mountville were related to Biechlers murder. forget it man, no way. I’ll tell you what Chief Pig, you print this Letter in the paper along with a Picture in Friday nights Lancaster Paper and saturday mornings paper, and I might confesss When I get off my trip. You see the world owes me a living, maybe I give you a few hints who I am. got busted once for Drugs a few years back Live in West end of Lancaster Suburbs I am 5'10" tall 205 LBS fat and Beautiful and capable of killing again without knowing it Dec. 5, 1975 was under the stupor of amfetamines Like right know. Well educated man in the Community, single, good job but god please chief help me I am loosing my mind help me before I kill again, the headaches kill me Every time it aches, the Drugs only Calm it temporarily. Will god forgive me — — — — - Please print this Chief in the paper so I know you got it. v then I write you again, god I need a priest what have I done. Help me please P.S. chief sheeler my friend has confess to the killing of Lindy Sue biechler, as god is my withness Do as he asks, print this letter on the front page, I am not aware of his intentions right now but contemplating murder is not his intentions, he is mentally sick. When the letter appears, then he will turn himself in, he described the relationship he and Lindy had before he killed her. He only realizes it now when your on Drugs your not responsible for your actions. Please he is asleep now. That’s why I finished the letter. All I can tell you my friend frequents manor shopping center in the Evenings and the fields around it. Mostly weeknights. He will contact you very soon and oh when he Does please bring a Catholic priest to the police station. Janice Crum”
The police weren’t convinced the letter was real. There was little detail included in the contents and what was included had been reported in newspapers following her death.
Despite being told to print the letter, the note wasn’t published until December 2000, when investigators thought someone may come forward, recognising the writing.
In April 1989, forensic testing was carried out on the bloodspot found at the crime scene. Technology had begun to advance but when it came time to test the sample, the equipment wasn’t good enough to analyse the blood.
The years continued with still no word of a break in the case. The new millennium arrived and still, police were no closer to solving the, now, 25-year-old mystery.
In June 2006, Lindy’s case was chosen by the Vidocq Society for inclusion in their programme. The group of 50 volunteer top forensic scientists, psychologists and other members of law enforcement came together to look at Lindy’s case in more detail.
“When you have a case that you’ve worked diligently for years…and you think you’ve exhausted most of your leads, the perfect mechanism to have is a group of people like this.” — Chief County Detective Michael Landis in Lancaster New Era.
The problem was that they didn’t find anything new, and despite the expertise within the Society, the case remained cold.
In December 2007, Lindy’s brother Michael contacted another murder victim’s brother. 25-year-old schoolteacher Christy Mirack was raped and beaten to death in her home on the 21st of December 1992. There was no motive or suspects in her case and her brother Vince was frustrated at the progress, so he agreed to work with Michael to bring the case to the forefront of people’s minds once again.
The brothers rented a billboard along Route 30 and placed an image of their two murdered sisters on it.
The image that was included on the billboard and in newspapers via newspapers.comThe billboard faced east and caught the attention of thousands of motorists. They hoped that someone would have information about their sisters’ deaths, but no one came forward.
“I think a lot of things were botched and a lot of things were overlooked from the start.” — Phil Biechler speaking to LNP Always Lancaster in July 2018.
The case was all but forgotten by everyone apart from the families, but in January 2019, something remarkable happened; A killer was caught.
A local DJ admitted to Christy Mirack’s rape and murder after being linked by DNA. His sister had used a genealogy website to trace their ancestry, which in turn matched in part with the DNA found on Christy. Raymond Rowe pleaded guilty, 27 years after the murder.
Christy Mirack and Raymond Rowe via lancasteronline.com
The 49-year-old had built up a following on social media due to his music and had continued his life for over a quarter of a century. He now resides in Waymart Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania where’s he’s likely to stay for the rest of his life.
Though this didn’t help Lindy’s case directly, it showed how far genealogy profiling had come in the past few years and later in 2019, two composites of Lindy’s murderer were released to the public.
The suspect via Lancasteronline.com
The images created by Parabon NanoLabs show the killer at two different ages and how he would have aged over the years, from 25 to 65.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said, “A snapshot might trigger something for somebody. We don’t need much here. We just need something.”
Lindy’s killer may well be dead by now, but hopefully, the images will help nudge a hidden memory for someone in the Lancaster area.
Phil Biechler finished college went onto the University of Delaware, where he continued his study in fine arts and sculpture. He eventually remarried in 1990 and had a daughter. He’s now a metal fabricator and creates his own stunning metalwork pieces.
Lindy’s case is still open, and information can be provided by calling the DA’s office on 717–299–8100 or the Manor Township police at 717–299–8100. Alternatively, visit WhoKilledLindyBiechler.com for more information about the case.
“There were a lot of things that were done wrong, but this case was solvable back then; it’s solvable now.” — Detective Joseph Geesey.