A Pennsylvania jury has found a former Portage County Health Department worker guilty of murder, according to Pennsylvania court records.

Loyd W. Groves, 69, of Beaver, Pennsylvania, was accused in January 2015 of the July 1991 murder of Katherine D. Heckel, of Lock Haven, Clinton County.

Groves retired from the Portage County Health Department in December 2014. He was hired in March 1992 as a sanitarian in the environmental services division, and was division director upon retirement.

His sentencing is set for Jan. 17. He faces between 20 and 40 years in prison.

Heckel was 40 when she went missing on July 15, 1991. She was last seen leaving work as a secretary at the International Paper Company in Lock Haven, according to PennLive.com.

Her body was never found and she was declared dead by a judge in 1998. According to PennLive, jurors had to find that prosecutors showed that Heckel was in fact dead, before finding Groves guilty of murder.

Groves was originally charged with first-degree murder as well as the third-degree murder charge on which he was convicted, but the jury acquitted him of the first-degree murder charge.

The website also reports that Groves and Heckel were having an affair during the summer of 1991, and argued at work before Heckel’s disappearance when Heckel told Groves she wanted to end the relationship.

Both Heckel and Groves were married with children during that time, according to PennLive. Heckel’s husband was on duty with the Pennsylvania National Guard.

One of Groves’ attorneys, Cheorge E. Lepley, told PennLive he would appeal.

 

Contact reporter Eileen McClory at emcclory@recordpub.com or @Eileen_McClory.