PERKASIE, Pa. - The saying goes, "it's never too late," and investigators are hoping that rings true in the quest for justice.
Nearly 60 years later, detectives in Bucks County are revisiting a homicide that gripped the small community of Perkasie Borough when 59-year-old Mabel Kretshmar was attacked, robbed, and killed.
The decision to open the February 1959 murder came at the suggestion of borough councilman Scott Bomboy who started digging into the case after stumbling on newspaper clippings while researching something else.
"People who remember this situation, they want it reinvestigated," Bomboy said. "Off and on over the years they kept tabs on the case."
The community kept tabs too.
"It always came up in conversations over the years," said Faye Lawrence.
Lawrence and her sister Joan Frick are believed to be the only family survivors in the area. Kretshmar was their aunt.
Lawrence was a teenager and Frick was about five years old when police say Kretshmar, who was walking to a prayer service, was dragged into a wooded area behind what's now Lenape Castings near Walnut Street and Constitution Avenue.
Police say the man attacked and robbed the 59 year old, but she was able to make her way to a nearby gas station to call police. She died the next day giving police little time to discuss the incident and details of her attacker.
"Daddy was very mad because they hadn't set up a roadblock the night it happened," Lawrence said.
"He felt police didn't do enough at the time," Frick said.
The sisters grew up with the mystery, but recall little of the time period when their aunt was killed.
"All I can remember is we went to a funeral of an aunt that was murdered," Frick said.
"I remember my cousin, deceased now, telling us the FBI was going to be there, to see if this person would show up, because they could tell by the way he walked," Lawrence said.
Police said he had a long stride, and walked with his left foot turned out.
They published a sketch rendering of what they thought he looked like.
The news gripped the community and had some living on edge.
"People were a little afraid to go out, children were not allowed to go out anymore by themselves," Lawrence said.
Perhaps time has eased some of those fears, but police hope the same can't be said of guilt.
They're hopeful the killer may come forward, if he's still alive, or someone else may break their silence after all these years.
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