Boyd man arrested in 45-year-old Pennsylvania homicide

Posted Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A Wise County man was arrested Thursday on a murder warrant from Pennsylvania, nearly 45 years to the day after the bullet-riddled body of a Bethlehem Steel employee was found in a field.

Richard Keiper, 67, told a Texas Ranger last month that he had fled Pennsylvania after shooting 40-year-old Alfred Barnes “in order to start a new life by joining a traveling carnival,” Pennsylvania state police reported.

Keiper is married with one child and two stepchildren and had been living quietly in Boyd for many years, said Cpl. Thomas McAndrew, a state police investigator.

Keiper will be returned to Pennsylvania to face trial in the death of Barnes, an assistant to the vice president at Bethlehem Steel.

Hunters found Barnes’ body in a field in Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, Pa., on Oct. 19, 1968. He had been shot multiple times at close range. His new 1969 Ford Thunderbird was later recovered in Warren County, N.J., where authorities found Barnes’ blood and a .32-caliber bullet on the drivers’ side floor.

In 1971, a witness named Quaquo Kelly told police that Keiper had approached him in a bar and offered to sell a gun for $10. Kelly said Keiper told him that he had “shot a guy from Bethlehem Steel in the hand” with the gun. He also offered to sell some of the victim’s clothes, according to police reports.

“For some reason, the case went cold, and Keiper was never tracked down and interrogated,” McAndrew said. “Recently, one of our troopers saw that as a loose end.”

Kelly was reinterviewed in August and confirmed what he had reported in 1971.

Keiper was interviewed on Sept. 24 by a Ranger who was not identified. Keiper said he shot Barnes at least three times during a struggle for the gun inside Barnes’ car. Keiper then pulled Barnes from the car and drove to New Jersey, where he abandoned the vehicle and hitched a ride to the Allentown area, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Keiper was arrested Thursday without incident at his job at a wastewater treatment plant. He was in the Wise County Jail Friday night. He has been charged in Pennsylvania with murder, robbery and theft.

A message left Friday at a phone listing for Keiper was not returned.

It’s not clear how Keiper, then 22, and Barnes were acquainted, or what led to the shooting.

“The victim was described as being someone who was typically well dressed and who expressed pride in his new vehicle,” police wrote in the affidavit.

Keiper grew up in the Poconos and in the Allentown area. He also has ties to Virginia and Florida. Investigators are trying to learn more about Keiper and would like to talk to anyone who has information about him.

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