Remains Found Decades Ago Are Those of Missing Wife

Body of woman killed in 1977 in Delaware is identified as Marie Heiser
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2021 4:10 PM CDT
One Part of a Decades-Old Murder Case Is Finally Solved
Marie Petry Heiser.   (New Castle County Police)

Four decades ago, a 50-year-old Philadelphia wife and mother of two named Marie Petry Heiser vanished. Police say husband William Heiser told their children that she "packed her bags and left" and that he had no idea where she'd gone, per the Philly Voice. One part of the mystery has finally been solved: Authorities in Delaware say they have identified the remains of a woman found in a wooded area in Townsend in June 1997 as Heiser's, reports Delaware Online. At the time, police knew the woman had been murdered, but they could not identify her. Had William Heiser reported his wife missing, they might have identified her that way, but he failed to do so for reasons that look to remain a mystery, per People.

William Heiser, a former Philadelphia police officer, sold their home in December 1977 and moved to Florida, where he died of cancer in 2006. The murder case remains open, and New Castle police say they are "specifically interested" in speaking to anyone who knew Marie Heiser or the family before her death. They have not identified any persons of interest in the murder. The identity was cracked in a now-familiar way: Investigators found a match between the DNA of their victim and her living children—a daughter in California and a son in Florida—in ancestry databases. (More cold cases stories.)

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