Woman Found Slain in 1977 ID'd as Wife of Philadelphia Cop, Who Told Kids She'd Run Away

After four decades, authorities have identified the remains of a woman found slain in a drainage ditch near a wooded area of Townsend, Del.

Marie Petry Heiser, a 50-year-old mother and homemaker, was never reported missing, so the slain Philadelphia woman's body hadn't been identified despite being discovered in 1977.

Heiser was found by a teenage boy who spotted her body while riding his bicycle in June of that year, according to a statement from the New Castle County Police.

For years, all police had was a cause of death — homicide — and a description of the woman. They had an estimate of her age — between 40 and 55 years old — and said the woman with dark blonde hair stood 5 feet, 3 inches tall.

Heiser, police said, was the wife of William Heiser, Sr., a member of the Philadelphia Police Department's Highway Patrol during the 1950s and early 1960s.

"They were known for performing thrill shows in area stadiums and arenas," reads a statement from police. Heiser left "the Police Force after being seriously injured while rehearsing for one of these shows," and later worked as a truck driver, according to the statement.

"William Heiser, Sr., relocated to the area of South Daytona Beach Florida in the late 1970s and subsequently died in 2006" from cancer, the statement reads.

It is still unknown how Marie Heiser — who was working part-time at the Ashbourne Country Club in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania — was killed all those years ago, but police say DNA records were used to help name the victim. She was the mother of two children, according to a police statement. They are now adults; her son is a retired sheriff's deputy,

"The children had been told by their father that their mother had packed her bags and left the residence in Philadelphia, leaving behind no information on where she had gone," reads the police statement.

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The statement does not identify a person of interest in the killing.

The case remains open and is under active investigation.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact New Castle County Police Detective Jeffrey Sendek at (302) 395-8110. He can also be reached via email at [email protected]

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