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Saturday, March 23, 2024

The William Keitel Murder Case

     William Keitel and his wife Michele were married in 1989. The couple resided a few miles north of Pittsburgh in Ohio Township, Pennsylvania. In October 1996, following a tumultuous marriage and two children--William, 5 and Abbee, 3--William and Michele separated. Shortly after the split, Michele, 35, became engaged to Charles Dunkle, a 34-year-old from nearby Moon Township.

     In the evening of New Year's Day 1998, 45-year-old William Keitel sat in his Mercedes in the parking lot of the Stop 'N Go convenience store on Mount Nebo Road. He and his father, William Keitel senior, were waiting for Michele to arrive with the children pursuant to an a prearranged exchange. As on numerous occasions in the past Michele had either forgotten about the exchange or was late.

     At nine-thirty that night, after William Keitel called the police, Michele, accompanied by the children, her father and her fiancee pulled into the convenience store lot.

     As Mr. Keitel pulled out of the Stop 'N Go parking lot with his children in the car, Michele saw that he was armed with a handgun. (He had been issued a permit to carry the .38-caliber revolver.) Screaming that he had a gun, Michele ran after the Mercedes as it eased back onto Mount Nebo Road.

     William Keitel, realizing that his estranged wife was chasing his car, pulled into a neighboring beer distributorship parking area and climbed out of his vehicle with the gun in his hand. As Michele, her father--Mr. Charles Walker--and Charles Dunkle rushed him, William shot Mr. Dunkle in the chest at close range. With Michele on her knees next to Dunkle's body, William Keitel placed the barrel of the .38 to her forehead and pulled the trigger. When Mr. Walker tried to disarm Mr. Keitel, the father-in-law was shot in the stomach.

     Michele Keitel and Charles Dunkle died on the beer distributorship's parking lot. Charles Walker survived his bullet wound. The Keitel children witnessed the mayhem a few feet away from their father's car.

     Charged with first-degree murder of Michele Keitel, third-degree murder of Charles Dunkle and the aggravated assault of Charles Walker, William Keitel went on trial in Pittsburgh in October 1998. His attorney, William Diffenderfer, presented a case of self defense that included putting his client on the stand to testify on his own behalf. Allegheny County prosecutor Edward Borowski, in the murder of Michele Keitel, sought the death penalty.

     The jury following the one-month trial found William Keitel guilty as charged. The jurors, however, rejected the death sentence by an eight to four vote. In January 1999 Common Pleas Judge Jeffery A. Manning sentenced William Keitel to life in prison without parole. Three months later prison administrators assigned Keitel to the State Correctional Institution at Houtzdale located in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania.

     In 2010 William Keitel's 18-year-son, a high school senior, died when his car collided with a telephone pole.

     At one in the afternoon of August 2, 2013, after returning to his cell following a work assignment, William Keitel's 43-year-old cellmate beat him severely. The 59-year-old convicted murderer was rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Altoona, Pennsylvania where, nine days later, he died from the beating.

     The federal appeal of William Keitel's conviction and sentence that had been pending before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia was dismissed.

3 comments:

  1. Its really a nice story about crime. Thanks for sharing, Jim Fisher

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    1. I went to school with Bill. He was a quiet, calm man. I am informed that Bill had dealt with numerous times when the custody exchange was late or didn't happen because Michele didn't show up. And there was talk that Michele's boyfriend and Father had threatened him. On what was to be this exchange...Bill and his Father waited 12 hours before Michele, her Father and boyfriend arrived and only after Bill had called the Police. It seems clear the Walker family contributed greatly to this tragedy.

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