A Pennsylvania judge ruled Friday that 67-year-old Richard Keiper of Boyd will stand trial in the 1968 killing of a Bethlehem Steel employee.
Monroe County District Judge Colleen Mancuso decided there was enough evidence for the murder case to proceed against Keiper.
Keiper was charged last month with killing Alfred Barnes, a 40-year-old assistant to the vice president at Bethlehem Steel. Hunters found Barnes’ bullet-riddled body in a rural field on Oct. 19, 1968. His new 1969 Ford Thunderbird was later recovered in New Jersey, where authorities found Barnes’ blood and a .32-caliber bullet on the driver’s side floor.
Keiper told authorities he left town soon after the murder and joined a traveling carnival.
He eventually wound up in Boyd. He soon married a local woman, raised a family and was considered a good neighbor. Photos of Keiper on his wife’s Facebook page show him beaming as he holds his grandchildren. He has a daughter-in-law who serves on the city council.
But while Keiper was living as a model citizen in small-town Texas, the dark secret in his past was working its way to the surface.
Last month, after new information surfaced in the cold case, Keiper confessed to Texas Ranger James Holland. Keiper, who was 22 at the time of the alleged crime, has been charged with murder, robbery and theft. After his arrest in Wise County last month, he was extradited to a Pennsylvania jail where he awaits trial.
Keiper contends he shot Barnes in self-defense. He told Pennsylvania State Trooper Donald Marsh that Barnes picked him up, and they drove off to a remote location. Barnes then pulled the gun on him, and they struggled before Keiper shot him multiple times in the head and hands.
But the story he told Marsh conflicted with the one he told Holland. In one of the confessions, Keiper implied he was with a mysterious man named Steve, whose idea it was to rob Barnes. This man has never been identified by authorities.
And despite Keiper’s contention that he shot Barnes in self-defense, Mancuso, in a preliminary hearing, ruled there was enough evidence to send him to trial on all three charges.
Marsh said this case was the oldest unsolved murder case in the files at his Pennsylvania office.