Murder mystery continues after 2 years at Philadelphia woman’s brutal murder

Denise Barger, 62, was discovered beaten to death in her bedroom in Berwyn, PA.

BERWYN, Pa. – The day that the 62-year-old Denise Barger was discovered bludgeoned to death inside the bedroom of her more than 3000 square meters of home in this well-to-do, the suburbs of Philadelphia city, the police on a visit to her neighbor’s house.

It is routine procedure for the homicide investigators to speak with the neighbors of the murder on the victim, but when Tredyffrin Township police and Chester County detectives knocked on the door of Barger neighbor on Heatherstone Drive, David Bookstaber, they soon had suspicions about the 42-year-old Yale-trained, Air Force veteran and father of two.

A trail of blood leads from Barger is the home to a fence adjacent Bookstaber property, and a suspect injured right hand, led the police to the name Bookstaber, the primary “person of interest” in the investigation.

However, that was almost two years ago, and prosecutors have not brought charges Bookstaber nor have they seemingly made no progress in Barger dead – a fact that has her family both amazed and still struggling to come to terms with her death.

“I know that the police are still busy, so that keeps me from pulling my hair out,” Barger-the brother of Mike McDonald, told Fox News. “But I can’t let go; I think about it all the time.”

McDonald was the one who discovered his sister’s body, when he stopped by her house to drop off his Norfolk terrier just as he did every weekday. Barger was recently widowed and the daily stop was just as much about the control in the on her as it was about the dog.

Denise Barger, 62.

(With thanks to Mike McDonald)

When Barger did not answer the door, McDonald found the spare key, let himself in and called her name. Receiving no response and thinking she was just out of earshot, McDonald ran up the stairs and into the master bedroom.

What he saw will haunt him for the rest of his life.

McDonald found his sister lying next to her bed — brutally beaten, bleeding from the head and cold to the touch. With a broken nose, broken ribs and internal bleeding in the brain, a medical examiner would later determine she died of blunt force trauma.

“She was my best friend and my sister,” McDonald said. “I can’t believe that someone would want to do this for her.”

In the days after the murder, police conducted two searches of Bookstaber’s home and the collected data — combined with his past with the Bargers — loved him as a “person of interest.”

David Bookstaber


The relationship between Barger and Bookstaber was anything but neighborly.

In February 2015, Barger filed a complaint to the police about Bookstaber allegedly firing a gun on his property. After investigation of the incident, the police learned that a close failure utility transformer may be the cause of the noise and no charges were filed against him.

However, it was not the first time complaints of Bookstaber the discharge of a firearm had leveled against him.

In July 2014, Bookstaber was arrested and was charged with recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct for allegedly firing a gun on his property. Bookstaber told the police that the noise of fireworks – not a gun – and the accusations were later retracted and removed from his record.

“They saw something in him that was not good and let him know,” McDonald said. “They knew that there was something unstable, something that was not good.”

Barger, and her late husband, Tom, had also expressed numerous complaints to the city about how their neighbors and the homeowners association in their Daylesford Estate near do not maintain the rainwater basin is good, but it is unclear whether Bookstaber was involved in the treatment of their complaints.

Denise and Tom Barger former home on Heatherstone Drive Berwyn, PA, where the former was killed.

(Andrew O’reilly/Fox News)

Shortly before her murder, Barger had sold her house and was preparing to move to a nearby townhouse – telling of her brother who in the neighborhood “was nothing more than bad luck,” says the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to a search warrant filed by Chester County Detectives and obtained by Fox News, Bookstaber had interest in his wife, the parents of moving in the Barger house, but Barger told the agent “that she would not like Bookstaber to come in her house.”

When Barger’s body was discovered, police interviewed Bookstaber to find out whether he saw or heard something suspicious on the day of the murder of his neighbor. During the interrogation, the researchers noted a number of details that ultimately led to seek a search warrant for his house.

The first was that, “Bookstaber had a badly swollen right hand, in particular, for the bandage,” and that “the swelling showed no bruises, indicating that the injury was recent.” While Bookstaber is the fault of the swollen hand on poison ivy, his wife, Denise, said that she had not noticed poison ivy or any other injury on her husband’s hand on the two days before the murder took place.

Later, when they are transported to the Tredyffrin Police department to be fingerprints, Bookstaber recanted his poison ivy story, and told the researchers that he would put his hand in something.

“The injury to Bookstaber the hand is consistent with an injury caused by a powerful, striking something with the hand/fist,” Ken Beam, a crime forensic expert, mentioned in the declaration. “The injuries to the victim of the face, especially her eyes, are in conformity with struck with a fist.”

Police also seized footage from a surveillance system that Bookstaber had set up around his house, but the cameras were not operational on the day of the murder has taken place.

“The injury to Bookstaber the hand is consistent with an injury caused by a powerful, striking something with the hand/fist.”

– Ken Beam, a crime, a forensic expert

In the course of their first study in the Barger home, the police discovered a bloody footprint on the floor. The next day, while serving a search warrant of Bookstaber the house, they found a pair of Sperry boat shoes with a sole, a missing, any – that had a similar shoe pattern as that of the bloody footprint.

Then there is the so-called trail of blood.

With the help of a forensic bloodstain mixture, detectives traced a 35-metre-long blood trail leading from Barger-bedroom, through an open door, across the porch and the backyard to a fence separated her house from Bookstaber’s. Barger-property, but also adjacent to a public walking and cycling route, which had an escape route for the killer.

While many of the messages in the media early in the investigation found that the police had discovered that the blood on a sink, and a light switch in Bookstaber, the garage, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office told Fox News that a further analysis by a certified crime lab found the substance to be a false positive and no blood.

The police report states there were no signs of a break-in in the Barger place of residence, but does not mention whether any property was taken.

While Bookstaber was not available for comment, his attorney told Fox News that all the evidence is indirect, that the police have not revealed new evidence against Bookstaber in the two years since the murder has taken place and that his client has fully cooperated with the police during the investigation.

“David is not yet committed a crime,” lawyer Joseph P. Green Jr. has said. “And, he hopes, just like everyone else, that the person who committed the crime is brought to justice.”

Michael Noone, the First Assistant district Attorney in Chester County, told Fox News that Barger’s murder remains an active and ongoing investigation and anyone with information should contact Chester County Detectives or the Tredyffrin Police department. A $ 100,000 reward has also been offered by the Citizens Crime Commission for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in Barger’s death.

As the investigation into his sister’s murder hits the two-year mark, McDonald said that, while there is nothing to heal the wounds of the loss of his brother, he is the hope that the perpetrator is quickly brought to justice. But he added that he wants to make sure that when her killer goes to court, that person ends up behind bars.

“Someone should be brought to justice,” he said. “But I want that person to be prosecuted beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

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