DAUPHIN COUNTY -- State Police charged a Dauphin County man with perjury in connection to the disappearance of Tracy Kroh, according to the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office.
Matthew Webster was arrested in the courtroom Thursday following his testimony before the 11th Dauphin County Investigating Grand Jury, the DA said in a release Thursday afternoon. The complaint alleges that Webster falsely testified that he had not spoken in advance with a woman about the content of her pending grand jury testimony.
"The justice system depends on people telling the truth. In this particular case, we’ve alleged that this defendant lied, said Fran Chardo, Dauphin County District Attorney.
The woman was a material witness in the investigation of Kroh's suspected murder, according to the criminal complaint affidavit filed against Webster.
The woman allegedly told State Police that Webster implicated himself in the rape and murder of Kroh, who has been missing for 30 years, according to the complaint.
The complaint states that State Police conducted a search of a property on Middle Road in Halifax Township in August 2016 in connection to Kroh's murder. The property was formerly owned by Webster, the complaint says. The search was widely reported on by local media, according to the complaint.
The woman was interviewed by State Police on June 4, 2018, the complaint states. In the interview, the woman told police that on the Monday after the property was searched, she and Webster were drinking at her home, when he began to talk about how he was involved in the rape and murder of Kroh.
The complaint says the woman told police she heard Webster tell her he and some friends came in contact with Kroh on the square in Millersburg, where Kroh was from. the woman said Webster told her "It was supposed to be a rape and done, but it turned out to be a lot more than that," the complaint states.
The woman allegedly told police that Webster was drinking at the time, but she believed what he was saying, according to the complaint. She told police she warned Webster to stop talking when the topic of Kroh came up, the complaint states.
The woman allegedly told police she was afraid of Webster, the complaint says.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania approved a wire tap of Webster's mobile phone on May 3 of this year, the complaint says. While the wire tap was in place, the woman was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury regarding the investigation on June 6. After she received the subpoena, the woman spoke with Webster on the phone regarding her appearance before the grand jury, the complaint says.
During the phone conversations, the woman allegedly told Webster police had coerced her into giving the statement, and claimed she was mentally handicapped and unfit to testify, the complaint says. Webster allegedly forgave her and made arrangements to pay for an attorney to represent her when she testified, according to the complaint. They then discussed how to address the upcoming grand jury appearance and how she would disavow her prior statement to police, the complaint states.
Webster was in the courtroom when the woman testified before the grand jury, according to the complaint.
When Webster testified under oath before the grand jury on Thursday, he falsely claimed that he had not discussed the woman's testimony with her prior to her appearance, the complaint says. He repeatedly denied having any conversations with the woman in the period before her testimony, according to the complaint.
“He denied trying to influence a witness, that was coming before the grand jury, and having extensive conversations with this witness about what her testimony would be, said Chardo.
Chardo authorized the immediate arrest of Webster in the Dauphin County Courthouse. Magisterial District Judge Barbara Pianka arraigned Webster and set bail in the amount of $500,000. Webster failed to post bail and was committed to the Dauphin County Prison.
Kroh, 17, of Millersburg, was last seen on August 5, 1989 at a trailer park in Halifax when she was trying to visit her sister and brother-in-law.
After dropping off a barbecue grill and some grocery store coupons, investigators say she never made it home.
Kroh's car, a 1971 Mercury Comet, was found in Millersburg square the night after her last sighting.
Part of her wallet, including her driver's license and National Honor Society card, were found in an area along Wiconisco Creek, off Rakers Mill Road, in Washington Township, which is approximately nine miles from Millersburg.
In 2014, Dauphin County investigators said the 17-year old was seen using a public telephone off Millersburg Square before her disappearance.
This summer, the investigation into Tracy Kroh's cold case has apparently heated up.
In May, investigators spent several days searching Webster's former property on Middle Road in Halifax Township a second time.
In July, another search happened at a property on Mountain House Road in Jackson Township.
Editor's note: FOX43 has removed the name of the material witness who was previously named in the story.