Possible break in Lehigh Valley cold case

BETHLEHE, Pa. - December 21, 2010

Louise Valeriano and her family lived next door at the time and were the ones who discovered the body of her neighbor and friend, 78-year-old Katherine Kerchmar.

"We could see her body lying between the bedroom, and her head was almost in the kitchen, and sure enough, the telephone was on her left side and the cord was around her neck," Valeriano said.

No arrests were ever made and the Kerchmar murder case has remained unsolved for 35 years.

Recently though, cold case investigators in Northampton County obtained a search warrant to collect DNA samples from William Tirado.

Tirado is currently behind bars at a state prison in Luzerne County for a string of burglary convictions.

Apparently, Tirado started bragging to other prisoners about killing a senior citizen he was robbing in Bethlehem back in the 70's, but was never caught.

That information reportedly got back to authorities who have already collected new hair samples from Tirado.

"At the crime scene back in the 70's, police were able to obtain some hairs and the DNAs of those hairs will be matched with this individual," Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said.

Meantime, Louise Valeriano says this is the first time since 1975 that she can think about her old friend and not feel sad.

"Now that this has come up, I hope there is a conviction and I hope he spends the rest of his life in jail," Valeriano said.

So now, assuming the DNA samples match, after 35 years, this case could go in front of a grand jury as early as this summer.

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