Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Katherine was last seen on Monday, July 15, 1991, as she was leaving her office at the International Paper Co. in Lock Haven to go to lunch. Heckel, 40, a management secretary, called her two children just before lunch that day and said she was going to run some errands and would eat her lunch alone. At the start of her lunch break, she drove her car out of the parking lot and never returned.
Her father reported her missing the next day. He described his daughter as a devoted mother and he told police she would never leave her children uncared for. Heckel's husband, John, was in the National Guard and was away from home on a two-week training exercise when his wife disappeared, so he was quickly ruled out as a suspect in her case.
According to the investigation, she wasn't carrying any money or personal belongings at the time of her disappearance, and her financial accounts have not been used since she went missing. Heckel's car was found on Thursday, July 17, 1991, at 10:30 p.m. near the Lock Haven Hospital, but there was no evidence of her whereabouts at the abandoned car or at work.
Police in 1993 classified the case as a homicide and a judge declared Heckel dead on July 15, 1998.
A co-worker, Loyd Groves, was charged in 2015 with first- and third-degree homicide in the death of Katherine Dolan Heckel. Investigators had considered him a suspect since Heckel's disappearance. Heckel and Groves began a brief romantic relationship during the summer of 1991. When Heckel informed Groves she wished to end their relationship, Groves allegedly killed her following a loud and riotous fight at their place of employment.
Groves' van was seen leaving the International Paper Co. at around the same time as Heckel's car, and Type A traces of Heckel's blood type was found on the van's carpeting, the middle seat and the interior light. Police also found a box of .25 caliber ammunition, a hunting knife, a partially used roll of duct tape and two athletic bags in the van, and a .25 caliber pistol in Groves' desk inside the paper plant.
Heckel grew up and spent her life in Lock Haven, graduating from Lock Haven High School in 1969. Thereafter, she took a job at International Paper. In June 1972, she met John Heckel, who eventually was promoted to Command Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army. They fell in love and were married on June 16, 1973. They had two children, Alicia and John. Every witness who testified described Kathy as a devoted and loving mother. She was also described as a diligent and well-liked employee in the human resources division of International Paper. Her body has never been recovered.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Pennsylvania State Police