Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murders of David and Carol Keeffe: Suspect and Arrest


"It's a shock and relief," Athens business owner Dorothy Atchison said of DeSisti's arrest. "It's relief for the family, but it's a shock that it was so close to home and over something as little as material things like land. Family shouldn't be fighting over things like that."

John DeSisti
John DeSisti

It appeared, both before and after the arrest, that the land dispute between Carol Keeffe and John DeSisti was a possible motive for the murders.

"I've expressed my disappointment that it would be a family member who would do such a thing over a piece of property," said Jonathan Foster, past president of the Bradford County Bar Association who spearheaded a $120,000 reward fund for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for his friend and colleague's death. "It's just kind of hard to believe...Melissa Keeffe lost her parents, and she's been so strong throughout this."

If no one is eligible to receive the reward, Foster said, the money could be used in other ways, such as for a scholarship fund.

"We are going to try to keep his memory alive through a scholarship fund," Foster added. "In addition, we set up an award we would give in memory of him and his wife to a member of our bar association and a member of the general public. As a member of the bar, I'm glad to see that, after so many years, at least some justice might be forthcoming because, certainly, David and Carol didn't deserve such a tragic death."

"I never underestimate the potential of anyone of any age to commit this type of crime," said Art VanRiper, Pennsylvania State Constable. "Being in law enforcement myself, nothing surprises me."

One of the Keeffe's neighbors, David VanDewark, who was also a friend, told a reporter for WNEP-TV that he was happy to see that an arrest had finally been made. He was outside cutting wood when he heard the news of DeSisti's arrest.

"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I didn't think they'd catch anyone. It's been four years. I knew Keeffe and them for nearly twenty-five years...Keeffe always walked up and down the road, every day."

DeSisti's arrest was also disturbing for at least one of his neighbors, Shirley Ropp, who told a reporter with WETM-TV that she had known DeSisti as a very kind person.

"Average Joe, that type of person," Ropp said. "Not my idea of a person that would do something like that."

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