Man given new sentence for 1987 'redrum' murder in Reading

Michael Boettlin Jr. to be eligible for parole

READING, Pa. - A man who, as a teenager, was ordered to spend the rest of his life behind bars for one of Reading's most infamous murders is being given a chance at freedom.

Michael Boettlin Jr. was re-sentenced Friday to 40 years to life in prison. He'll be eligible for parole after 10 years, when's he's 56 years of age.

"I'm disappointed that is was 40, but the judge was fair and he was following case law," said friend Jeni Breitenstein. "That's all we can do, maybe put in an appeal. I think 10 more years is a lot."

"This is a sentence that is somewhat consistent with the new sentencing scheme that our legislature has passed to address juveniles who commit murders," said Berks County District Attorney John Adams.

Boettlin appeared before Judge Paul Yatron for his re-sentencing hearing, more than 30 years after he participated in the 1987 murder of Stanley Detweiler on South Fifth Street in Reading.

Boettlin, who was 16 at the time of the killing, is one of several convicted killers in Berks County who must be re-sentenced because of a recent Supreme Court ruling on life terms imposed on juvenile defendants.

"He's improved himself a lot, and I feel confident he is going to get out, so that's a good thing, and I'm confident he's going to do good with the rest of his life," said Cynthia Katzin, an aunt.

Boettlin's co-defendant, John Calvaresi, died of natural causes in 2015 while serving a life sentence in state prison. He was 22 at the time of the killing.

The two men, police said, were trying to burglarize Detweiler's apartment when Detweiler surprised them.  

Calvaresi then beheaded Detweiler and used his blood to write "redrum" -- "murder" spelled backwards -- on a wall of the apartment.

"This is a crime that, when it occurred, sent a chilling effect throughout our community," Adams said. "This was a horrific, brutal homicide."

The case drew international media coverage because of similarities to the 1980 movie "The Shining," which had been shown on cable television just a few days earlier. In both the case and the movie, which was based on a Stephen King novel, the word "murder" was written backward in blood on the walls.

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