Former Pastor Charged with Homicide | News
Investigators in the Poconos have charged a former pastor with killing his wife.
They said the clergyman staged a car crash in 2008 to make his wife's death look like an accident but in reality, it's a case of homicide.
Former pastor Arthur Schirmer is accused of murdering his wife, Betty Schirmer, and staging a car crash in Monroe County to make her death seem like an accident.
Police believe the then pastor of the Reeders United Methodist Church beat his wife, and then crashed his car into a guide rail near their home.
His wife later died at the hospital from head injuries.
Police believed it was all an accident and no autopsy was ever done.
State police reopened the case in October of 2008 after a man committed suicide in the church office. According to police, Schirmer was having an affair with the wife of a man who killed himself.
Then police started looking into Schirmer's past and discovered his first wife may have also died a suspicious death.
Jewel Schirmer reportedly fell down a flight of stairs in 1999. Her death is still under investigation in Lebanon County.
The search for answers in Betty Schirmer's death ramped up late in 2008, when investigators said they discovered blood stains in the pastor's garage in Monroe County. According to court papers, the DNA of that blood matches the family line of Betty Schirmer.
People who live in the area were surprised to hear the accusations.
"It's really shocking. I never thought that this could happen in this area, and precisely someone that is from the church," said Marile Mendez of Reeders.
Darla Vogt is a member of the church Schirmer used to lead. "My parents adored him and all the older people liked him but I knew there was something strange about him," Vogt said.
The current pastor at Reeders United Methodist Church said his church members are moving forward. "The congregation is strong and we've moved on so I feel confident," said Reverend Jay Fisher.
Police investigations also determined the speed of the car during the 2008 crash was no more than 25 miles per hour, and not 50 miles an hour as Schirmer originally claimed.
His lawyer said his client is ready to fight the charges. "We anticipated that they were investigating and that we'd have to face these accusations and we're fully prepared to do so," said defense attorney Brandon Reish.
Schirmer is being held without bail in the Monroe County Correctional Facility.
He's expected to go before a judge again later this month.