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Monday, November 14, 2022

The Kristopher Gartrell Murder Case

     On November 25, 2018, when the cleaning lady arrived at the home of 87-year-old Virginia Barbour outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, she found the house in disarray. When the cleaning lady couldn't locate the homeowner, she called the police.

     When officers with the Pennsylvania State Police rolled up to the scene they found Virginia Barbour's body wrapped in a sheet and stuffed beneath her bed. The killer responsible for strangling her to death had stolen her 2012 Chevrolet Impala and what was later determined to be $1,200 worth of coins. The killer had also tried to burn down the house in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence. The fire did not take and went out by itself.

     The day following the murder, detectives developed 48-year-old Kristopher Gartrell as a suspect in the case. According to Gartrell's girlfriend, he had murdered the elderly victim. Gartrell had allegedly threatened to kill his girlfriend if she went to the police. 

     Police officers took Kristopher Gartrell into custody at the Presidential Inn in Gettysburg. At the time of his arrest Gartrell was in possession of the dead woman's car and coin collection.

     When interrogated by detectives, Gartrell confessed to entering the victim's unlocked house for the purpose of robbing her. After he forced Virginia Barbour to show him where she kept the coins, he tied her up and raped her twice. Following the sexual attacks, Kristopher Gartrell strangled the victim, stuffed her body under the bed then set fire to the room. He left the scene in the victim's car.

     Officers booked Mr. Gartrell into the Adams County Jail on charges of murder, rape, kidnapping, arson and robbery. Given the number and seriousness of the charges the magistrate denied Gartrell bond.

     Further investigation revealed that Kristopher Gartrell was registered in South Carolina as a sex offender. In 1997 he had been convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He had also been convicted of kidnapping. A parole board in South Carolina released Gartrell from prion in March 2018. In August of that year the authorities placed Gartrell on South Carolina's "19 Most Wanted" list after he failed to report to his probation agent.
     In May 2019, following his guilty pleas to sexual assault and murder, the judge sentenced Kristopher Gartrell to life in prison.

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