That all changed one day in late October 1981 when the community experienced a great tragedy. Outside, the fall leaves were glowing yellows and reds, slowly drifting to the ground. Innocently, kids shuffled and crunched through them as they raced to school. It was business as usual for this sprawling community.
One particular kid, Chris Guenther, a junior at Peters Township High School, had an early dismissal. In a hurry to leave, she quickly said goodbye to her best friend. “I’ll call you later about the Steeler game,” she promised. The two were going to Three Rivers Stadium with her family later that night.
Chris raced out, anxious to catch a bus to Pittsburgh for a doctor’s appointment. The teenager walked down the road from Peters Township High School to Donaldson’s Crossroads. There was one problem, the bus schedule & route had recently changed and Chris wasn't aware of it.
The bus & route she intended to take was not in service that day.
What followed is uncertain, except that Christine Guenther did not make it home to attend the football game that evening.
As the days passed by, the anxious Washington County community waited for word on the young girl. Tuesday...Wednesday...Thursday...Friday...nothing. Family and friends feared the worst, but prayed for the best. Surely, Chris was okay. “This is Peters Township. Nothing bad happens here.”
On Saturday, parents reluctantly prepared pumpkins, collected costumes, and set up for the Halloween holiday. Everyone was holding their breath. "Do we let our children trick or treat this year? Is it safe? Can we protect them? Where is Chris?”
News of the discovery traveled fast. A community was left to mourn such a tragic loss. Horrified, parents and children alike felt violated. Parents did not want to let their kids out of their sight. People started locking windows and doors. Headlines told the story of a missing McMurray teenager who was found lifeless near a desolate roadside.
Fear shook the community. A child was lost, and the killer...they remained free. There was a murderer among us. Thirty plus years later, the case is still unsolved. As for the community’s children, they grew up…but they never forgot...nor do they intend to.