Pennsylvania State Police makes arrest in 34-year old cold case; suspect confessed to actions in murder

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GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Investigators have finally solved a cold case dating back 34 years. On July 27, Chris Speelman confessed at the Gettysburg State Police barracks to the murder of Edna Laughman.

Laughman was brutally murdered in her Oxford Township home back in 1987. A family member falsely confessed to killing her, spending 16 years behind bars.

Laughman was found beaten, suffocated and sexually assaulted in her home on August 13, 1987.

Loved ones were devastated by the news, saying they had no idea who could be responsible, or why.

Initially, a distant relative of Edna’s confessed to her murder and was convicted and imprisoned for 16 years. But in 2003, DNA proved he didn’t do it.

Police were set back to square one.

Fast forward 15 years and the attacker’s DNA was tested again. Official documents say the test lead to Christopher Speelman, who was 24 a the time of Edna’s death.

Police say Speelman was related to Edna both maternally and paternally. Documents also state that Speelman had lived with Edna for 10 years prior to her death. Police say Speelman initially claimed he didn’t know Edna had been murdered but became visibly shaken when police informed him about the DNA link. Documents state “He became visibly shaken and said several times that he was ‘worked up.’ At one point he lifted his arm to show us that he was shaking.”

Speelman agreed to provide a sample and investigators say it was a match. But one question remains — why?

On Tuesday, July 27, Officers from the Pennsylvania State Police reportedly served an arrest warrant on homicide charges to Speelman. Speelman admitted that he broke into Laughman’s home, in an effort to steal items. He then attacked Laughman and suffocated her with a pillow.

Speelman further admitted that, after suffocating her, he forced pills down the victim’s throat before having sexual intercourse with her lifeless body. Finally, Speelman stated that he acted alone in the crime and no one else was on or near the scene as an accomplice.

This is a developing story. Stay up to date on the latest from abc27 News on-air and online.

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