Into Thin Air; The Case Of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone

 

This Month marks the 12 year anniversary of one of the most perplexing local mysteries I know of, the disappearance of Danielle Imbo and Richard Petrone Jr. On February 19th, 2005, Danielle and Richard walked out of a bar on South Street in Philadelphia, and seemingly, off the face of the Earth.

On the night they vanished, Danielle and Richard had met some Friends at a bar named Abilene’s on the 400 Block of South Street in Philadelphia. The couple, who had known each other since High School, had only recently started dating after Danielle’s split with her estranged Husband. Shortly before Midnight, the couple left the bar and headed for Richard’s pickup truck, a black 2001 Dodge Dakota, that Richard had mentioned to Friends at the bar was parked nearby. Richard had planned to drive Danielle home to her house in Mount Laurel, a town in southern New Jersey about 20 miles away, and maybe a half hour’s ride. He would stay over night at Danielle’s, and then head home to his Philadelphia apartment in the morning getting home in time to watch the Daytona 500. It’s not known if they reached Danielle’s house or not. What is known is, neither was ever seen again, and Richard’s truck has never been found.


After Danielle and Richard vanished, there were no cell phone calls by either of them, no activity in either of their bank accounts, and their credit cards were never used. By all accounts, neither Danielle or Richard would deliberately vanish by choice, as they each were great parents to young children from their previously relationships. As most investigations go, Law enforcement started with the People closest to Danielle and Richard and then worked their was outwards from there. The one obvious suspect to authorities was Danielle’s estranged Husband. He was closely looked at, but apparently he had a solid alibi being witnessed at a party by several People on the night of February 19th, and then spending the night at a Friend’s house at least 50 miles from Abilene’s bar in Philadelphia, and at least 40 miles from Danielle’s home in Mount Laurel. This has not stopped rumors and innuendos of a ‘murder for hire’ plot,but as of now, there is no solid evidence linking anybody to the missing persons case. In fact, although there very likely is a crime involved in this case, there’s no evidence of one.
In looking at the possibilities, if they were not followed and marked for death by somebody, they may have been the Victims of a random car-jacking,or robbery gone wrong. Philadelphia is called the City of Brotherly love, but in reality, certain sections of it are dangerous and violent crimes are not out of the question. On the New Jersey side of the bridge, depending on what route the couple would have taken, they might have crossed thru Camden, or the outskirts of Camden, one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for Violent crimes. If the couple did make it across the bridge and to Danielle’s, did something happen upon arriving at her house? Could somebody have followed the couple after they left the bar? There are plenty of possibilities, and a complete lack of any clues after they left the bar. There were no surveillance cameras showing the bar area, so Police do not know which way they walked after leaving, but as Richard had stated, he had gotten lucky with a close parking spot, so the walk should not have been a long one. The area Toll bridges were checked to see if they yield any clues as far as Camera footage, paid tolls, etc , but nothing of value was found to help the investigation. One possibility that I think is possible, is that somewhere, at some point, Richard’s truck may have wound up in one of the area rivers or creeks as the result of an accident. It could explain how no trace of Richard’s truck has ever been found. People can easily vanish, but a 3,000 pound truck is harder to hide. Short of chopping it up, or dumping it in a river, there’s not many ways to make it disappear. The VIN or vehicle identification number would be stamped on various parts of the truck making it hard to ever sell again since the VIN is easily trackable by Police & DMV.

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Murder in Amish Country; the case of Lindy Sue Biechler

 

This article is a reprint of a Guest-Blog article that I wrote for the late true crime writer, Michelle McNamara’s site TrueCrimeDiary.com

(If you have not explored Michelle’s wonderful true crime articles, be sure to check out her site TrueCrimeDiary.com while it’s still up)

Over the years, I have corresponded quite a bit with Lindy’s family, so her case is one that is very important to me. Here’s the article as it appeared on TrueCrimeDiary.com-

 

 

Lindy

Date Published 05.26.13

Guest blogger Mike Morford operates the website zodiackillersite.com.  He lives in New Jersey.

 

The words are as chilling now as they were when they were first committed to paper in 1976.

“hi sheeler (Police Chief 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”

 

 

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These are the contents of a letter sent to police in the case of a young murder victim in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area back in 1976.  The murder of Lindy Sue Biechler was a shock to the quiet and  peaceful neighborhood near Amish country, and left a family devastated.  Did Lindy’s killer write the letter? We may never know. The writer attempted to open up a line of communication with the police, but they did not respond. I discovered this case while researching the Zodiac Killer, and was amazed at how much this letter read as if it was written by the Zodiac himself, including some of the very same spelling errors, words, and phrases. Most interesting of all was that the writer wanted his letter published in the “Friday paper,” just as Zodiac had requested when he first wrote to police in 1969. As I researched the case from the angle of determining if it might be a Zodiac murder, I soon realized that such a task might not be possible to complete; however, I quickly realized how fascinating the case was no matter whom the killer might turn out to be.

Lindy was a young wife and floral shop worker when she was murdered on December 5, 1975.  In the weeks leading up to her death, she reported to her family that she felt she was being stalked, and said that she had seen somebody peeking through the sliding glass doors of her apartment.  It became so unnerving for her that she did not want to be home alone. On the night of her murder, she ran errands and returned to her apartment to wait for her husband to come home from work. She arrived home at about 7:15 pm, and carried some groceries into her apartment.  Some relatives decided to go over and sit with her until her husband came home from work, and arrived at her apartment at about 8:40 pm. They couldn’t possibly be prepared for what awaited them.

When they entered the apartment, they discovered Lindy’s lifeless body on her kitchen floor. She had been stabbed several times, and there was a knife still embedded in her neck. Investigators would discover that the knife in Lindy’s neck was a knife that belonged to her from her own kitchen, but that a second knife was used in the attack as well, one that was not found at the crime scene and presumably was brought to and from the scene by her killer. Although police believed the attack was sexual in nature, there was no evidence of rape, or robbery. Police were quickly stumped. They had no real strong suspects at the time, and the case would quickly go cold. Until about a year later.

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