Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick investigates the 2007 murder of Darlene Ewalt for a new Investigation Discovery TV series "The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead." The case also includes the 2007 slashing of York County woman Patricia Brooks. Courtesy of Investigation Discovery
Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick investigates local serial killer attacks in a new Investigation Discovery series.
On July 13, 2007, Darlene Ewalt, of West Hanover Township in Dauphin County, was murdered while talking on the phone in her own backyard.
Four days later, Patricia Brooks, of Conewago Township, was attacked with a hunting knife in her rural York County home.
Both women thought they were safe within the confines of their own property. But with an unknown serial killer on the loose in central Pennsylvania, both were wrong.
Now, nine years later – almost to the day – the chilling attacks are the subject of the July 25 episode of Investigation Discovery’s new forensic series “The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead.”
The eight-part series – which began July 18 – takes an in-depth look at eight adjudicated homicide cases that occurred during York College graduate Graham Hetrick’s 25 years as Dauphin County Coroner and shows how forensic evidence is used to determine the cause and manner of death.
Each episode shows “differing faces of death,” Hetrick said, ranging from decades-old missing person cases to crimes of passion to serial killers
Hetrick said he chose this particular serial killer case for the series because it shows the challenge of working on an investigation that takes place over multiple municipalities and because of the very unexpected nature of Ewalt’s death.
“She would have assumed she was one of the safest people in the world, sitting in her suburban backyard and talking on the telephone,” he said.
The episode, titled “Call the Coroner,” focuses on Ewalt’s murder, but also discusses how the York crime scene and another murder scene in New Jersey were essential to catching the killer in a Massachusetts home.
“(The York assault) plays a role in the fact that there are certain things that happen beyond coincidence,” Hetrick said. “When these two events happen very closely along with a third one a bit later, they all started to tie in and fit into the picture.”
Hetrick said he couldn’t be sure, but he thinks the July 25 episode is the only one of the eight-part series with a direct connection to York County.
“I remember working with the York detectives,” Hetrick said. “York handled the original assault down there with great expertise and collected good evidence. There was a specific piece of evidence that did help. I’ll let you watch and see.”
The episode will also discuss forensic evidence like blood patterns, wound patterns and DNA, which led investigators away from questioning Ewalt’s family members to looking for a person who kills just for the thrill of it instead.
“It was cooperation and looking at patterns that brought this case to resolution and the killer to justice,” Hetrick said.
The episode airs at 10 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.
Hetrick will then post an essay on his thoughts and observations about the case and a glossary of forensic terms on Crimefeed.com after the show.