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New look at 1998 murder case; reward offered

Years after a York County teen was found guilty of killing his younger brother, their parents believe the true killer still hasn’t been found.

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A 13-year-old was stabbed more than 80 times. His older brother was convicted of the murder. But is the killer still out there?

Their parents believe so.

On Oct. 2, 1998, Greg Witman was killed in his home in New Freedom, York County, just after he got home from school. About four-and-a-half years later, his brother, Zach, was convicted of killing him and was eventually sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

“My husband and I are victims of this atrocity of justice. As parents, Ron and I have lost the most precious gift: our children,” said Sue Witman, the boys’ mother. She said the boys had a “normal, loving relationship.”

Nearly 15 years after the murder, the Witmans have a team of private investigators giving the case a new look. There’s also a $100,000 reward available for information leading to what the Witmans are killing the “real killer.” The investigative team has set up a website which can be viewed by clicking here.

The new investigative team includes former New York police detective Jay Salpeter and Lonnie Soury, whose “work has led to solving the wrongful convictions of Martin Tankleff in New York and Damien Echols, on death row in Arkansas in the West Memphis 3 case,” according to a news release.

During a news conference Wednesday, Soury said investigators at the time used “fake or faux scientific evidence” to convict Zach Witman. He also said the police investigation was not effective and that Zach had “no credible defense.”

The team also includes former Aberdeen, Maryland, police officer George Matheis, Jr., a weapons expert.

He pointed to the penknife found buried in the Witmans’ backyard after the murder, which was believed to be the weapon used in the murder.

“”I was asked whether or not I thought that this weapon could be used to inflict those injuries. My intuition and experience told me right away. No,” said Matheis.

In the process of killing Greg, investigators say the boy was nearly decapitated.

Prosecutors and the new investigative team agree on some facts about the case: Greg arrived home from school at 3:10 p.m. Erynn, Jeffrey, one of Greg’s friends, called their house soon after. Zach called 911 at 3:17 p.m. Emergency crews arrived at their home at 3:25 p.m.

The Witman team believes someone else came to the home and attacked Greg. Zach was home sick from school and heard a thud at 3:15 p.m. That’s when he discovered his younger brother. Between the time the murder took place and when the EMTs arrived, the team believes that person may have gotten out of the house and buried the penknife and gloves which were found hours later in the backyard.

“When you tussle around with soembody, even for a few minutes just playing around, you get out of breath pretty quick. When he speaks to Erynn at 3:15, she reports he was the same old Zach, and he wasn’t out of breath,” said Matheis. “So, that’s kind of, that’s very subjective to think that (Zach) would have heard something, not to mention the fact that if the windpipe is cut, then you can’t scream.”

Fox43 contacted Tim Barker, the attorney with the York County District Attorney’s office who prosecuted the case. Barker did not return calls seeking comment.

At the time of the murder, Southern Regional Police Chief James Childs said detectives were not limiting the scope of their investigation to Zach. “We’re still looking at the big picture,” he said.

Zach Witman has tried to get a retrial more than once, but those requests have been denied. He has another request pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The investigative team said they may try to get a federal court to take the case.

The investigative team and the Witmans offered a couple alternative theories as to whom the killer may be. Ron Witman said the killer may have been a stranger from out of the area.

The investigators said Greg may have had an issue with a friend.

“But there were incidents going on in Greg’s life, a dispute with another friend. And, that friend’s father had a very interesting position with the county. So, we have some theories. We are going to look into it. But, I’m not about to name any names,” said Jay Salpeter.

witmanYork- The family of a 13-year-old boy that was found savagely murdered in his York County home is looking to have the case reopened.  A suspect has already been tried and convicted for the crime.  That suspect is the victim’s own brother.

This was a horrific case with lots of twists and turns.  Thirteen-year-old Gregory Witman was stabbed over 60 times and almost decapitated inside his New Freedom home.  His then 15-year-old brother, Zach Witman was charged and convicted of the crime.  However, the parents have always believed in their son’s innocence and are now calling on investigators to reopen the case.

This is 13-year-old Gregory Witman just before his death in October of 1998.  The teen was savagely murdered after coming home from school one afternoon.  Police arrested and charged his older brother Zach seven days after the crime.  According to the Witman family, police found bloody gloves and a tiny penknife almost 12 hours after arriving at the crime scene.  That penknife was determined to be the murder weapon.

But the family and a panel of experts they have hired have disputed that claim.  They say there was no blood, fingerprints or DNA that matched Zach found on the knife or gloves found at the scene.  Edge weapon expert George Matheis said in a recent interview with the York Daily Record that the penknife could not have delivered the fatal cuts.

“After reviewing the autopsy report and looking what was submitted as evidence, my first inclination based on my experience and expertise is no, this is not the murder weapon,” said George Matheis.

The Witman family hired the services of Matheis along with former detectives from New York and Maryland to take a look at the case.  They also claim there is new forensic evidence developed by Forensic Scientist Dr. Henry Lee, all of which point to another killer besides Zach Witman.

The Witman family is looking to have investigators reopen the case.  They have scheduled a news conference for later today to release their new findings.  At this point, Zach Witman’s case is currently before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as attorneys are asking for a new trial based upon ineffective counsel.