Remains found on the Huntingdon County property of a man charged in the death of his daughter-in-law are indeed those of the woman, who disappeared in 1999, authorities said.
County District Attorney George Zanic said Thursday that DNA testing confirmed that the remains recovered in May on a property in rural Warriors Mark Township were those of 23-year-old Sherry Leighty, The (Altoona) Mirror reported.
Altoona police Detective Cpl. Matthew Starr said Leighty’s family was informed about the identification on Thursday morning.
Her father-in-law, Kenneth Leighty, 66, of Altoona, is charged with homicide and related counts.
His attorney said Leighty helped investigators find the remains of the mother of three on his property.
Leighty pleaded guilty last month to aggravated assault against state police troopers investigating the case and was sentenced to three to 23 months in prison.
He is due in Huntingdon County court on Thursday for his formal arraignment in the homicide case.
Sherry Leighty’s husband – the defendant’s son, Aaron – told investigators he initially believed she may have run off to Maine with another man but began to doubt that when she didn’t contact their children in subsequent weeks, months and years.
Kenneth Leighty had told police he took Sherry Leighty to work on the day of her disappearance, then went to work himself, but police said they have since determined that he was off that day.
Zanic said earlier that he doesn’t think the slaying qualifies for the death penalty, but a decision on that issue hadn’t yet been made.