BERN TWP., Pa. - It's been nearly a half-century since two missing teenage girls from Philadelphia were found murdered in Berks County.
Their identities remained a mystery until last month when modern science allowed authorities to identify the girls as 14-year-old Sandra Stiver and her 17-year-old sister-in-law, Martha.
"Years go by and you just think they're going to come through the door, and they never come," said Tom Stiver, Sandra's brother and Martha's husband, who joined his sister, Hazel Demos, and their mother, Elizabeth Stiver, for a news conference at the Berks County coroner's office in Bern Township on Monday.
The Stiver family members, who now live in Ohio, never stopped searching for their loved ones, sisters-in-law who vanished together from Philadelphia. Now, they're being reunited after 46 years, accepting Sandra's cremated remains.
"My mom has never stopped wondering," Demos said.
Sandra's body was found on Route 82 in Caernarvon Township in 1968. Officials said she was shot multiple times. Her death was ruled a homicide.
"We were looking in Philly, and they were looking in Kansas. We weren't even in this area," Demos said.
Martha's skeletal remains were found about eight months later in nearby French Creek State Park. The coroner believes she was also murdered.
The two girls, then unidentified, were buried in the old potter's field in Cumru Township until last fall when the coroner exhumed their bodies with the hope of giving some closure to their families.
The girls were positively identified and their families were notified after all these years.
"It's sad news, but it's good news because I'm sure the family always expected them to walk through the door and unfortunately that was never going to happen," said Dennis Hess, the Berks County coroner.
The family plans to give the girls a proper memorial service, but they said this is not closure. They know someone out there knows something about who is responsible, and they're pleading for that someone to come forward.
Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Alert Berks County by calling 877-373-9913. A cash reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.
Allentown, PA 18102