READING — Forty-six years after a Philadelphia teen’s disappearance and murder, the girl’s family accepted her cremated remains Monday and asked for the public’s help in finding her killer.
A month after the body was positively identified through DNA testing, the family of Sandra Ann Stiver accepted her remains at a news conference at the Berks County coroner’s office near Reading.
“We’re sad and we’re hurt and we’re mad,” said Sandy’s sister, Hazel DeMoss, of Richfield, Ohio. “We want to know who did it.”
Sandy Stiver, 14, and her sister-in-law Martha Stiver, 17, disappeared in 1968 after running away from home in Philadelphia. Hazel DeMoss said both teens were “wild,” but the family doesn’t know what compelled them to flee that summer day.
Sandy’s body was found in August 1968, about a week after authorities said she had been shot several times with a .22-caliber weapon. Martha’s remains were recovered the following April about five miles away in French Creek State Park in Elverson. Her cause of death could not be determined, but authorities say she was also murdered.
Neither victim could be identified and no connection to the Philadelphia missing-persons case was made. The teens were buried in adjoining, unmarked graves in a potter’s field outside Reading, about 60 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
The family moved to Ohio, but never stopped searching, and wondering.
“You’re always looking at somebody on a street corner and thinking it’s them,” said Tom Stiver, brother of Sandy and husband of Martha.
Decades later, Hazel DeMoss found information about two unidentified murder victims on the website of the Doe Network, a group of amateur sleuths that seeks to attach names to unidentified bodies, and suspected they might belong to her family members.
Authorities used an old cemetery map and ground-penetrating radar to locate the bodies. They were exhumed last fall and sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.
Sandy’s elderly mother, Elizabeth Stiver, choked back tears and held a tissue over her mouth as Berks County Coroner Dennis Hess slid a metal box with her daughter’s ashes in front of her. The remains of Martha Stiver will be sent to her family separately.
“If there’s anyone out there with any kind of information from 1968, when these murders took place ... please, it’s time to have a conscience and it’s time to fess up,” Hess said Monday.
State police say they are pursuing active leads.