Peggy Reber: Cold Case

A grand jury looks for a killer but only finds more villains in the 1968 Peggy Reber murder.

By Kevin Uhrich and Martha Shaak
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Aug. 9, 2009

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While they spent a great amount of time looking for Reber’s killer, members of the grand jury spent practically as much time investigating—then vilifying—author Gooden, accusing her of feeding ideas to Kathy Meador, Reber’s sister, and Ray; claims that Gooden vehemently disputes. As for her supposed influence on Detective Snavely, who dusted off the case in January 2006 and almost from the start suspected Dick Boyer, Gooden said Snavely is a trained criminal investigator—she isn’t. 

“Any information provided to Snavely by me, whether factual or not, was a facet of his investigation, and always was subject to his professionally trained investigative skills and his thorough objective and professional review,” Gooden wrote through her attorney, Harry Fenton.

Gooden had been raked over the coals so often throughout the grand jury report for focusing her own investigation on Boyer that supervising Lebanon County Judge Bradford Charles gave her a chance to reply, which Gooden and Fenton did in an 11-page filing.

“My influence of witnesses and the stories they tell is limited to encouraging each and every one to tell the total truth as they recall it and know it,” she wrote.

“They’ve called this an unsolved crime for the past 40 years and they will be talking about the fiasco of this grand jury for the next 20,” Gooden said of the final report.

All told, Peggy Reber is mentioned by name in the report 73 times. Dick Boyer is mentioned 67 times and Gooden, who referred to the grand jury as “Dick Boyer’s legal team,” is cited 63 times.

Gooden said she met Meador in 2000, and that it was Meador who told her that she suspected her former husband of the killing. Gooden insists that she had no further contact with Meador until 2008. And even then, Meador’s story did not change.
Neither did that of Ray Boyer, who Gooden said repeatedly made claims to her that his brother had killed the teen. Only when the time came to testify did Boyer say that he got his information about the investigation from Gooden and Snavely, who presumably got his information from Gooden.

When her turn came to take the stand, Meador told the grand jury that it was Gooden who suggested that Dick killed Reber. And, “Like Ray Boyer, Kathryn Meador was not able to provide any objective facts in support of the widely held theory that Richard Boyer participated in this murder.” In fact, Meador appeared confused and virtually nothing that Ray Boyer said panned out, including his contention that authorities never solved the crime because they were covering up for a prominent person. When asked to name one such person he saw at the Maple Leaf, Boyer failed to come up with a single name.

As to the guilt or innocence of Dick Boyer, affirms the report, “we heard absolutely no competent, credible or reliable evidence from which to conclude that Richard Boyer was involved in Reber’s murder.”

Meador has not returned numerous calls for comment. Dick and Ray Boyer could not be reached. District Attorney Dave Arnold uncharacteristically did not return several calls for comment.

In the end, members of the jury found that “The murder of Peggy Reber was a horrific crime,” and acknowledged that the murder investigation was complicated by “the unfortunate and dysfunctional environment in which Peggy was raised. We are disappointed to conclude that some who were the most vocal advocates of ‘Justice for Peggy’ [as Gooden’s website and the communitywide movement to have the DA take some action came to be called] were motivated by interests wholly unrelated to legitimate interests of justice.”

One problem was, “They didn’t plan on investigating Michelle Gooden,” Gooden says, referring to herself in the third person. “But that’s exactly what they did.” And that’s okay, she says. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

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1. Anonymous said... on Jun 24, 2015 at 01:12PM

“i moved to this town around 20 yrs ago. I have spoken with people who lived here at the time of the murder and others who were children themselves. I have always heard the same thing over again.Peggys mom was a prostitute and her daughters were following in their moms footsteps.They had johns that were very influential in this town. There were judges,lawyers,policemen,and the assistant district attorney at the time George Christianson.Everyone points to George.They say hes the one who got Peggy pregnant and murdered her.I have no idea if that is true or not.What i do know if people were involved in the courts as they say you best believe that child will never receive justice in lebanon.Also think about it who holds all the evidence from the murder where is it stored.If everyone I spoke to about this case is right do you actually think there will be any justice for Peggy?The only justice Peggy will get will be from God.Rest in peace Peggy.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Sep 25, 2015 at 11:28PM

“I was born and raised in Lebanon, PA, and I still live here. My uncle was originally accused of the murder, and upon being acquitted, he was told that he must leave town and never return. It ruined his life, and put a stain on my family name. I didn't grow up around that side of my family, but I still encountered the stigma attached to my last name, even as a child.

Lebanon is like it's own little country and has it's own set of laws and rules. I heard one very reputable lawyer from Philadelphia refer to Lebanon as "Hazard County", and say that "If you bring a lawyer from outside their clubhouse, they'll hang you with your own rope."

All of my life, George Christianson is the name I've heard as being the real killer. Of course, every time someone attempts to reopen the case, they are suddenly fired from their jobs or harassed by the authorities and their lives made a living hell, because the powers that be don't want their skeletons getting out of their”


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