The Christine Guenther Murder

In 1981, a small Western Pennsylvania suburb mourned the loss of a 15-year-old girl. Thirty years later, her peers speak up, insisting on justice. Learn more about this promising young woman, and help us finally put this mystery to rest.

Tribune Review Article 11/6/11

Decades later, friends still search for Christine Guenther's killer

How to help

Anyone with information about the slaying of Christine Guenther should call the Allegheny County Police Department's 24-hour tip line at (412) 473-3000 or its homicide unit at (412) 473-1300.

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Her 1981 killing unsolved 
Keith Hodan | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Christine Guenther
Submitted

About the writer

Tom Fontaine is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer and can be reached at 412-320-7847 or via e-mail.

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Publicity has breathed new life into the investigation of a Washington County teen's killing that has remained unsolved for three decades.

Homicide detectives in Allegheny County -- where the body of 15-year-old Christine Guenther was found on Oct. 31, 1981 -- received about a dozen calls on the cold case in the last week, said county police Assistant Superintendent Jim Morton.

Guenther's body was found hidden under a pile of leaves in a wooded area of South Fayette on Oct. 31, 1981, five days after she left school to catch a bus to a doctor's appointment in Pittsburgh. She had been a junior at Peters Township High School.

"That is definitely out of the ordinary this many years later," Morton said. "Information might trickle in from time to time, but not all at once like this."

Morton attributed the new leads to coverage of memorial activities surrounding the 30th anniversary of Guenther's death, along with an online, social media and advertising campaign by a group of her former classmates and friends. The group -- the Friends of Christine Guenther -- created a related website and Facebook page in addition to placing signs in the Peters area.

Morton said several callers claimed recent attention to the case "refreshed their memories," while others said they felt obligated to come forward with information they thought was meaningless at the time of the murder but troubled them over the years.

"One man stated his life had changed since then, and he just wanted to talk to someone about it," Morton said, declining to offer specifics about the new information.

The Friends of Christine Guenther raised about $3,000 to rent a billboard at Route 19 and Valleybrook Road in Peters for a month, and also placed 75 smaller yard signs throughout the community. The signs urge anyone with information about the case to contact Allegheny County police.

"Everyone who had been around at that time, it affected our lives," said Diane Postrech, 48, of Canonsburg, spokeswoman for the Friends of Christine Guenther. She said she received one tip in the last week and forwarded it to authorities.

"We were young and couldn't do anything about it at the time, but now, 30 years later, we have the money and we have social media to help us get information out to people. We're pretty certain that someone out there knows something."

Peters Police Chief Harry Fruecht said "any time anyone brings attention to something and possibly joggles someone's mind, it can help."

Fruecht said he received one tip on the Guenther case in the past week. He forwarded it to county police.

Fruecht recalled just two other times in his 24 years as Peters chief when his department looked into the case.

"As old as this case is, it can (still be solved and prosecuted)," Fruecht said. "It just depends on the information."


 



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