Community reacts to arrest in 4-year-old Keeffe murder case
SAYRE, N.Y. - During the evening of Nov. 17, 2006, Carol Keeffe, age 60, and David Keeffe, age 56, were found dead in their Athens Township home - with multiple gunshot wounds to their heads.
This double murder, which garnered national attention that included a segment on truTV, did not reveal any leads or answers for the years that followed. And even Carol Keeffe's father, Michael DeSisti, did not have any answers into who murdered his daughter before his death in May of 2007 at the age of 91. Neither did her mother, Ann Caroline Tomasso DeSisti, who died as well at the age of 86.
As the years passed, not a word was heard, nor leads revealed - but the horrific crime that happened high up on Sayre Hill was not forgotten among folks in the valley area.
On Dec. 8, 2010, less than one month following the four-year anniversary of this deadly night, the Pennsylvania State Police arrested John DeSisti, age 73 of Waverly, N.Y., in connection with the murders of Carol and David Keeffe.
When the news of the arrest began to disseminate throughout the streets, shops and homes within the Valley on Wednesday, those who had given up hope that an arrest would ever be made offered their reaction.
Linda Ardrey, of Athens, Pa., was in downtown Sayre when she heard the news at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday. "Oh my God," were the first words that Ardrey was able to say. "It's unbelievable," she added. And upon learning that John DeSisti was arrested and charged with the crime, she reacted even further. "I always thought it was in the family," she said.
Greg Steele from Towanda, was working in Sayre when he learned of the news as well. Steele's reaction to the news was one of surprise. "I can't believe they finally had enough to arrest anyone," said Steele. "It's been a long time," he added, "so it's shocking."
Down the road in Waverly, N.Y., Pennsylvania's State Constable, Art VanRiper, wasn't surprised when he heard about the arrest. "I never underestimate the potential of anyone of any age to commit this type of crime," said VanRiper. "Being in law enforcement myself," he added, "nothing surprises me."
Back at the Valley House in Sayre, those patronizing the establishment were already discussing the arrest. Don Yale, of Sayre, felt that an arrest was a "long time coming," but was still shocked. "What evidence came now that they didn't have back then?" questioned Yale.
And from recollections that were resounding throughout the tavern, it appeared that there were an equal amount of questions that surrounded the crime, when it occurred in 2006, and Wednesday's arrest.
Traveling up Sayre Hill to where the entrance of the driveway can be accessed off of Moore Road in the Athens Township, "No Trespassing" signs to ward off intruders can be seen surrounding the driveway's entrance - a driveway that ascends for approximately a half mile and is blocked at that point by a security key enabled gate.
The security key gate, according to Dan Leary of Waverly, N.Y., was utilized by the three families living on the hill, and access to these homes would have been very difficult.
Beyond the gate, the driveway winds and is edged along a steep drop that reveals a spectacular view of the valley. Winding further, two lovely estates remain, and are decorated with holiday lights that create a much more tranquil setting today.
The third home, which was occupied by Carol and David Keeffe until the evening they met their untimely death at the hands of a killer, has since been demolished and buried, according to Leary.
As the former Mayor of the Village of Waverly, an appointment he served for many years, Leary knew both Carol and David Keeffe very well. Upon learning of the arrest, Leary stated that this will be a sad day for everyone.
"When it happened we were all in shock, and deeply saddened," said Leary. "Now that everyone has learned this news," he added, "it will have a domino effect on the community." "This is a very sad day."
At the time of his death, David Keeffe was president of the Bradford County Bar Association. He was succeed by attorney Jonathan Foster Sr., who provided support to the Keeffe family and community throughout the ordeal; delivering the eulogy at David Keeffe's funeral.
"I guess my first reaction is disappointment for the Keeffe family that it involves a relative," Foster said about the news that John DeSisti had been charged in the case. "Melissa Keeffe (David and Carol Keeffe's daughter) lost her parents, and she's been so strong throughout this."
Foster said that he hopes justice will be done in the case. He also said that the Bradford County Bar Association, is overseeing a reward of approximately $118,000 for information which led to conviction in the case. He said the association will be looking into determining if the award should be presented to an appropriate person, or, if no such person exists, to setting up a scholarship fund in David and Carol Keeffe's name.
Foster also said that he has grandchildren, and it makes him sad when he realizes that David and Carol Keeffe will not be around to help their grandchildren grow up.
Staff Writer C.J. Marshall contributed to this report.