Shocking twist in 38-year-old murder case after key lead found days after woman’s disappearance, leading to arrest

AUTHORITIES have made an arrest in a 38-year-old murder case after analyzing a lead found at the time.

Jere Bagenstose, 67, was taken into custody in Pennsylvania on Thursday and charged with criminal homicide in connection with the 1984 murder of his estranged wife Maryann Bagenstose, 25.

Jere Bagenstose was charged with a criminal murder


Jere Bagenstose was charged with a criminal murderPhoto credit: Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office

Her body was never found.

According to a press release from the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office, the case appears to have been solved thanks to a note allegedly written by Maryann, which has been used in evidence since the month of her disappearance.

“This is not a case that will be solved with DNA. Rather, the arrest of Jere Bagenstose is the result of decades of hard work and dedication by law enforcement officials, beginning in 1984 with members of the Pequea Township Police Department and continuing with numerous Pennsylvania State Police detectives through the present day,” said Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams, in an explanation.

“It was her commitment to seeking justice in this case and her willingness to devote resources to this investigation, combined with the review and analysis of decades of investigation and evidence compiled in this investigation by attorneys at my firm working in and.” culminated in this arrest today.”

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At the time of Maryann’s disappearance on June 5, 1984, she was separated from Jere and living with her new boyfriend in a residence on West Willow Road.

Her mother contacted the police two days later and reported her missing.

Maryann and Jere were embroiled in a contentious custody battle over their two-year-old son.

In April 1984, Maryann won custody of the child, but a formal hearing to finalize the details was scheduled for June 15.

Jere had told investigators in 1984 that he last saw his estranged wife on the morning of June 5 when he was going to pick her up and take her to trade their old car for a new one, according to the publication.

“Jere has communicated that he took his son to Long’s Park because Maryann was not ready to leave. He claimed that Maryann was not there when he returned home and left a note saying she had gone to Turkey Hill on Willow Street and that he had not heard from her since.”

But when an officer spoke to Jere at the address a few days later, they noticed “a piece of cardboard covering freshly dug dirt during an inspection of the garage”.

Beneath it, he reportedly found “an excavation area” that revealed a hole about six feet by three feet.

A search warrant was executed for this hole on June 13, 1984, and the area was excavated and found to be about five feet deep, although Maryann’s body was not found.

Jere is said to have given “conflicting statements” as to why he dug the hole in the garage “only a few days after the victim’s disappearance”.

Investigators also found a note “crumbled in a wooden nail barrel in the living room by the couch” that read, “Need to run an errand, be right back.”

Police also found that Jere was absent from work without an excuse on June 5 and had an unexplained injury to his left arm that was covered with a bandage.

He is also said to have made conflicting claims about what Maryann wrote in the note he found on June 5, why he was at the house that day and what she was doing when he arrived, police said.

About a year after Maryann went missing, Jede allegedly told police that people had told him they had recently seen Maryann and claimed that she had sent him postcards and notes, which he had not reported to authorities.

None of Maryann’s family or friends have heard from her since she disappeared, and there was no indication she had packed a bag or used her bank accounts.

Investigators began re-examining the case in 2018 and began searching online databases for Jere’s handwriting samples.

Additional samples were taken based on a search warrant from Jere’s home in September 2022.

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“Handwriting samples collected by investigators were submitted to the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Forensic Services – Harrisburg Regional Laboratory for forensic analysis,” the press release said. “The analysis compared the handwriting on a note seized by police on June 13, 1984, allegedly explaining her whereabouts, with Bagenstose’s items seized on September 20, 2022.”

Jere appeared for his arraignment Thursday and was taken to the Lancaster County Jail without bail.

Maryann Bagenstose went missing on June 5, 1984


Maryann Bagenstose went missing on June 5, 1984Photo credit: Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office Shocking twist in 38-year-old murder case after key lead found days after woman’s disappearance, leading to arrest


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