Patriot-News UPDATE:  New Evidence Could Mean New Trial
UPDATE:  Gladden Freed from Life Term

A mentally retarded man is convicted of murder. A serial killer lived next door to the victim. Testimony is suspect. After a decade in prison, we ask

Is David Gladden INNOCENT?

Sunday, December 11, 2005
Of The Patriot-News

Maybe it's sheer coincidence that a serial killer who targeted elderly women was staying in a room next to 67-year-old M. Geneva Long when she was beaten and strangled in 1994.

And it could be just chance that the way Long was killed -- stomped, dumped on a bed and set on fire -- almost identically matched the death of one of serial killer Andrew Dillon 's four known victims.

It's also possible that the mentally retarded David Gladden , who was released from prison that day, in less than five hours found a key to Long 's apartment, recruited a man he barely knew to burglarize it and then killed Long , as a Dauphin County jury found in 1995.

And perhaps the sole witness against Gladden is now lying when he says police coerced him into saying he saw Gladden kill Long .

If it weren't so tragic, the case against Gladden almost seems like a cruel joke -- from the police investigation that turned away from Dillon based on the word of a rapist trying to save himself from new charges, to the trial, where everyone involved in the case, including Gladden 's attorney, knew about Dillon , but no one mentioned him.

Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. agreed that there appears to be major problems with the verdict and re-opened the case when it was brought to his attention by The Patriot-News.

But after a review turned up no new evidence or DNA that would warrant reversing Gladden 's conviction, Marsico said there is nothing that can be done.

"Obviously, we don't want to see anyone innocent in jail, but at this point, Mr. Gladden stands convicted," Marsico said.

Gladden , who is serving life without the possibility of parole, has exhausted his appeals. Attorneys for Gladden said the case represents a breakdown in the justice system at every level.

Royce Morris, whose firm, Goldberg Katzman, agreed to represent Gladden at no cost, said no jury would have convicted Gladden if it had had all the evidence.

"Mr. Gladden has never changed his story -- he's innocent," Morris said. "Yes, he stands convicted of this horrific crime, but his conviction is based on testimony from witnesses that were corrupt and polluted sources and the jury was never made aware of the evidence that this crime fit the pattern of an admitted serial killer who had access to the victim. It's an issue of fairness: the law may not present an avenue for Mr. Gladden to get a new day in court but justice demands it."

Who's Involved
The murder of 67-year-old M. Geneva Long left many questions unanswered, including the guilt of the man who was convicted in her death.
About the author
Pete Shellem is an investigative reporter concentrating on crime, courts and legal affairs for The Patriot-News.

Since 1998, Shellem has written about the suspect convictions of Patty Carbone, Steven Crawford and Barry Laughman. All were serving life sentences for murder before Shellem investigated their cases. Today, all three are free.

Most recently, in the case of Laughman, of Hanover, Shellem located the DNA that had been presumed by investigators and lawyers in the case to be lost. He tracked it to a professor in Germany.

Between 1994 and 1996, Shellem headed a series of stories about justice being sold for campaign contributions in the office of the then-Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr.

The investigation resurrected a stalled federal probe. Preate facing potential racketeering charges, eventually resigned and pleaded guilty to mail-fraud charges.

So who killed M. Geneva Long ? Andrew Dillon , the calculating serial killer who raped and stomped old white ladies to death for his sadistic pleasure? Or David Gladden , the bumbling, petty burglar who a court-appointed psychologist said was functioning at a third-grade level?

When visited by a reporter in June at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy, Gladden broke down crying when shown Dillon 's record of killing women.

"You mean I've been doing all this for nothing?" he asked, gesturing at the prison surroundings that have been his home for 10 years.

When told he would know better than anyone whether he was wrongly convicted, Gladden replied, "I know, but no one has ever proved it to me before."

A clockwork life

On March 11, 1994, Harrisburg was recovering from its 16th storm of a brutal winter. With a couple feet of snow already on the ground, the city was spared when the latest storm fizzled into rain and sleet.

M. Geneva Long , a recluse who lived in a small rooftop apartment off an alley in back of 227 N. Second St., went about her routine. She took the bus to work at the Kinney Shoe Co. in Shiremanstown where she was an office worker.

Patrick Dealy, who rented an apartment and ran a hair salon on the second floor of the building, said Long lived her life like clockwork. She would go to work and come home to her cluttered apartment, where she would watch a small black-and-white TV.

He said the highlight of the Perry County native's life was putting bowls of food and milk out her window to feed stray cats on the roof.

She was somewhat paranoid and had told acquaintances that people had stolen inexpensive items from her apartment, often blaming the landlord. Yet her niece, Lenny Baumbaugh, told police she would answer the door without asking who was there.

"She wasn't totally right; she had a nervous breakdown years earlier," Baumbaugh said. "She kept to herself. Her apartment wasn't very secure. Anybody could have broken into the windows. But nothing I could do would get her out of there."

The lock on Long 's doorknob was broken, but she refused to use the deadbolt, Baumbaugh and Dealy said. Long would peek out of her blinds at the comings and goings of people who lived across the roof from her, Dealy said.

At that time, 227 N. Second St. contained a pool hall on the first floor, Dealy's salon on the second, and four rooms on the third floor, where the occupants shared a kitchen and bathroom.

Debra Hammaker rented one of the third-floor rooms. Her boyfriend, Andrew Dillon , had just been released from state prison after serving time on theft charges and was living at a halfway house on Cameron Street. He stayed with Hammaker on furloughs from Thursday to Monday.

The front entrance to the apartments was on Second Street, but a hallway adjoining Long 's apartment served as a fire escape for residents in the front and led to stairs that exited the rear of the building. Residents often used the stairs to leave the building.

The door at the bottom of the stairs was self-locking, and only Long had a key to enter from the outside, according to George Kaldes, who owned the building at the time. But the door on the roof was always open, Kaldes said.

Police believe Long arrived at Market Square on her usual bus about 5:15 p.m. and walked to her apartment.

Dealing with murder Shortly after 6:30 p.m., Harrisburg firefighters, responding to a call about a fire in Long 's apartment, found her charred body on a smoldering bed.

What was left of her winter clothes and boots was melted onto her body. She was partially covered with papers and debris. Her purse was next to her on the bed.

At first, city arson investigators Dennis Woodring and Walter B. Coy thought the blaze was caused by faulty wiring. It wasn't until the next day that pathologist Dr. Wayne Ross determined they were dealing with a murder.

Long 's killer was savage. He pummeled her head and face until she was bruised and bleeding, an autopsy showed. Two of her ribs were broken by what Ross said was a knee or shoe stomping her. Ross speculated that the perpetrator might have knelt on Long while strangling her.

Injuries to her vagina led Ross to suspect a sex crime, and he gathered swabbings from her mouth and genitals to test for semen. A lab analysis revealed none.

In the following days, Woodring and Coy canvassed the area, focusing on people living in the building.

Dealy, the hairdresser, said they asked him to take a polygraph test. When he failed, they accused him of the murder, Dealy said. Police threw evidence photos on a desk in front of him and yelled, "Start telling the truth!" Dealy said.

They then turned to Hammaker, who told police she came home from working at the Stop Lunch restaurant in the first block of North Second Street around 3:30 p.m. and went to bed.

According to her statement to police, Hammaker said her boyfriend, Andrew Dillon , woke her around 4:30 and told her he was going to the Community Corrections Center on Cameron Street to check in. The next thing she knew, someone was shouting for her to get out of the apartment because of the fire, she said.

Outside, Dillon walked up to her, and they waited until it was safe to go inside, she said.

Police didn't know what they were dealing with at the time, but they knew something wasn't right with Dillon 's story.

There was no record of him signing in at the corrections center. His story and Hammaker's didn't match. He said he had visited her at the Stop Lunch twice and got the key to her apartment. He claimed he was window-shopping in Strawberry Square at the time of the murder. He said he returned to the Stop Lunch and a cabdriver named Joe told him there was a fire down the street.

When asked if he knew Long , Dillon said, "I only saw her once. I was shoveling snow, and I saw her," according to his March 22, 1994, statement.

The next day, police re-interviewed Hammaker, a ninth-grade dropout who worked as a cook, and her story coincided with Dillon 's.

Several days later, police conducted an analysis of Dillon 's and Hammaker's statements. They believed "deception was evident in both statements," according to police reports.

Hammaker, who now says she believes Dillon killed Long , was given a polygraph test. Police could not find the results of that test. Dillon refused to take one.

On April 4, 1994, Coy wrote, "At this time there is no physical evidence or witnesses to this incident." He said he discussed the case with then-District Attorney John F. Cherry and decided there was not enough evidence to make an arrest.

Jailhouse conversation

A week later, police caught a break.

Donald "Goofball" Walborn, the self-proclaimed "eyes and ears" of the Harrisburg police department, was arrested on arson charges. He wanted to talk to the police about Long 's murder.

Walborn, a child molester, thief and alcoholic, had spent the previous two decades in and out of prison. His latest arrest was for setting fires to Dumpsters, a car and some junk.

By 1974, the Millersburg Area High School dropout had arrests for assault, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct when he was charged with trying to rape a 12-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of indecent assault, spent 60 days in Harrisburg Hospital for a mental-health evaluation, and was sentenced to 6 to 23 months in the county prison.

Two years later, he was arrested and charged with raping a pregnant woman while her son, 3, slept in an adjacent bedroom.

He had met the victim at a party and accompanied her and her son to a Halloween parade. He walked her home and left. The woman, who was eight months pregnant, said Walborn returned after she had put her son to bed and forced his way into the apartment.

He was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in state prison on Feb. 8, 1977.

Walborn wasn't released until 1983, and then was in and out of jail in the next several years on parole violations.

A month before Walborn went to police, he had been arrested and charged with stealing 34 pairs of earrings worth $79 at a downtown five-and-dime store, where he punched out a store employee who tried to stop him.

He spent the next 29 days in Dauphin County Prison before raising $25 to make bail.

It was during his time in jail that he claims Gladden , whose name had not previously come up in the investigation, told him about the old woman on Second Street.

He told police that Gladden , who was jailed on a marijuana-possession charge, said he used to go into an old lady's apartment and steal things such as antique jewelry. According to Walborn, Gladden told him that the woman had caught him in her apartment and threatened to call police.

"So he would tell me how she was an old bag, an old bitch and an old grouch; she was easy to get," Walborn told police. "... And he said that she was pretty, and it would be pretty the way that he could get her, and it would look like an accident, that she had a heart attack."

'It could of been my mother' Gladden was released from jail around 12:45 p.m., March 11, the day M. Geneva Long was killed.

Walborn was released 20 days later and said he saw Gladden in The Pub bar downtown with Dealy, the hairdresser.

There is no evidence that anything of value was taken from Long 's apartment. In fact, an envelope containing about $100 was found under her bed. But Walborn, apparently believing robbery was the motive, said Gladden was wearing nice clothes, gold chains, a watch and rings, and was flashing money at the bar.

"I said, 'What's up with the old lady?'" a transcript of Walborn's statement to police said. "He said, 'No wrap, she's been taking care of and I have been taking care of real good.' And he pointed at his clothes and he walked out the door."

Walborn said he thought Gladden murdered Long to get drug money and suggested that he killed others. He offered to wear a wire to help police.

"And to me, if I was any kind of person, I would say that Dave is the one that knocked the old lady off, to make it look like an accident," Walborn told investigators. "I hope this will help, I mean it could of been my mother, it could it sic been my grandmother that they knocked off. And I feel very bad about this old lady that got knocked off and I hope that very soon that they catch, if it was him, that they catch him and do what they have to him. Cause punishment have to be done, it has to be stopped, all the crimes on the street here."

Police gave Walborn a polygraph test. The available reports do not say whether he passed, but police wanted to conduct another test.

A major break At the time, Walborn had a secret he apparently kept from the Harrisburg cops.

Five months earlier, he was staying at the mobile home of a family in Millersburg in return for doing chores, according to police reports.

He was molesting their 12-year-old daughter, who slept on a couch in the living room, where he often would sleep on the floor next to her. He eventually raped her, and police and county Children and Youth workers were investigating.

When a state trooper went to the home on Dec. 22, 1993, Walborn drove up in a car with the girl, who was wearing an imitation diamond ring and sitting next to him in the center of the front seat. Her little brother was seated in the rear. Walborn admitted that he gave the girl the ring and $20 "just for being a good friend."

The trooper questioned the girl, and she turned over her panties as evidence. Walborn knew he would likely be arrested when he told city cops about Gladden .

His statement was followed by a series of events that appear to be connected to his cooperation.

State police in Lykens issued a warrant for Walborn's arrest on sex charges involving the Millersburg girl on May 12, 1994. Although he was still in Dauphin County Prison, he wasn't immediately charged.

After a May 23 preliminary hearing in the arson case against Walborn, the charge was reduced to criminal mischief, and bail was set at $500. District Attorney Cherry asked that Walborn be released on his own recognizance to report to Woodring and Coy.

Walborn wasn't picked up on the sex charges until June 22, 1994, and was jailed in lieu of $25,000 bail.

He was released on Aug. 3, 1994, when former bondsman Charlie Lawson posted bail. Walborn said police took care of the bail, which would have cost $1,255. Lawson did not return phone calls for this story.

Upon being released from prison, Walborn moved in with a Harrisburg family and their 12-year-old granddaughter. He assaulted her in the basement as she was doing laundry. A short time later he attacked her outside, saying he had done it to many other girls and "had to kill some of them," arrest papers state.

He landed back in prison on Oct. 10, 1994.

Facing the possibility of more than 100 years in prison, Walborn went to police with a new story.

He said a 22-year-old small-time burglar and thief named James A. Carson Jr. was with Gladden when M. Geneva Long was killed.

Walborn knew Carson from the county jail and downtown bars. Walborn said he told police that Carson told him about the "trouble downtown" he had had with Gladden .

There are no formal reports available about these statements because police classified Walborn as a "reliable confidential informant." Attorneys in the case and the jury would never know who started the ball rolling.

Although he never testified, Walborn received a major break for his cooperation when he came up for sentencing on Sept. 11, 1995. Walborn received 5 to 10 years on the two rape charges and the earrings theft.

Several days before Walborn informed on Gladden and Carson, Harrisburg police were confronted with another inexplicable atrocity that no one connected to the Long murder.

Part 2

PETE SHELLEM: 255-8156 or

Innocent Imprisoned
Truth in Justice