- Associated Press - Sunday, November 18, 2018

LOCK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) - A homicide trial is scheduled to open Monday in the disappearance a quarter-century ago of a central Pennsylvania woman whose body has never been found.

Jurors were seated last week for the trial of Loyd Groves, 69, in the death of 40-year-old Katherine Heckel, who was last seen in July 1991 leaving Lock Haven’s former International Paper Co. mill for lunch, LNP newspaper reported.

Authorities said Groves was a suspect immediately because of an extramarital affair he was having with Heckel, but he wasn’t arrested until January 2015.

Clinton County prosecutors allege that Heckel, who was declared legally dead in 1998, told Groves she wanted to end their brief relationship. Prosecutors asked each prospective juror whether the lack of a body would influence their verdict.

Defense attorneys told each juror that prosecutors must prove that Heckel is dead and that Groves killed her, which the defense has contended will be difficult.

The court had scheduled four days to pick a jury but completed the process in two despite concerns that the high-profile nature of the case would hamper efforts to find an impartial panel without moving the proceedings or bringing in a jury from another county.

Groves, charged with first- and third-degree murder, has been in jail without bail since his 2015 arrest. A statewide grand jury presentment said blood found in an area where carpet was removed from his van matched that of Heckel. Witnesses reported hostile behavior on his part toward the victim and but a lack of concern after she went missing, the report said.

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