LOCK HAVEN — There are new developments in a 25-year-old Lock Haven murder case. Presiding Senior Judge Carson V. Brown recently stepped down from that role, replaced by Lycoming County Senior Judge Kenneth D. Brown. The new judge has set this Thursday at 3:30 p.m. for a pre-trial conference with counsel for accused murderer Loyd Groves, 68, and prosecutors from the state attorneys general office.
The court calendar shows a Sept. 18 jury selection date, expected to take a week, with two additional weeks for the trial itself.
Groves is accused of killing Katherine “Kathy” Dolan Heckel of Lock Haven in 1991, her body never found. She was declared legally dead in 1998.
Groves had been bound over to court at a hearing in April of 2015 following his arrest in January of that year in Beaver County. Groves had moved from the area to western Pennsylvania following Heckel’s disappearance. Heckel and Groves had been coworkers at the paper mill in Lock Haven at the time.
Jury selection had originally been scheduled for September of 2015 but was delayed on discovery issues raised by defense counsel David Lindsay and George Lepley. Then-Presiding Judge Carson V. Brown ruled last summer in favor of the prosecution in a subsequent evidence hearing.
Grove’s counsel had been seeking the suppression of evidence recovered during a state police search of Groves’ desk and van in July of 1991, two days after Heckel was reported missing from her job at the former International Paper plant in Castanea Township.
Several now retired state police officers had testified in March of last year in the Groves case, all involved in the investigation at the time of the Heckel disappearance on July 15, 1991. They included former officer Miles Houseknecht. Testimony was heard relative to blood found in the Groves van which had seen a piece of carpeting cut out. A relatively recent grand jury report had stated it was Heckel’s blood found inside the van. Defense counsel had challenged the admissibility of that evidence, seen as a key in the case against Groves.
Groves remains in the Clinton County Correctional Facility where he has been incarcerated since local state police returned him in January of 2015 following his arrest. He has been held without bail since that time.
That arrest followed a statewide investigating grand jury report based on a renewed probe conducted by state troopers Curtis Confer and Michael Hutson and FBI special agent Kyle Moore.
Their work led to the grand jury findings which determined sufficient evidence existed to charge Groves with Heckel’s murder.