Murder at the Car Wash: New information on a cold case gives victim’s family hope

SOUTH GREENSBURG, Pa. — Could new information and old evidence help to solve a 32-year-old murder mystery?

In April 1990, a 25-year-old woman was found dead in her car at a local car wash. To this day, the case remains unsolved.

But Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle discovered that police are hoping a combination of the old and new will lead them to the killer.

“It’s been 32 years, and there’s never been nothing. Absolutely nothing,” said Kathy Waggoner from her home in Irwin.

It’s been 32 years since Kathy Waggoner’s sister-in-law, Deborah June Waggoner, was found dead in her car at a car wash in Hempfield Township. Police said she had been murdered.

Debbie Waggoner was living with her boyfriend and his mother at their home in South Greensburg at the time. She was managing a local fast food restaurant. In the early evening on April 18, Debbie went out to buy cigarettes for her boyfriend and get her car washed.

The operator of the car wash was locking up for the night. According to police, he saw Debbie vacuuming her car by herself. The next day around 5 a.m., a police officer on patrol spotted the vehicle still parked in the same place.

“He was able to see that there was a female that was slumped in the vehicle,” said State Police Trooper Steve Limani, a public information officer based in Greensburg who spoke with investigators about the case.

Limani also showed us an aerial photo of the crime scene taken that day 32 years ago.

In that photo, Debbie’s green sedan can be seen still parked at the vacuum cleaner.

According to reports at the time, Debbie struggled with her killer while being strangled by her own sweater.

An autopsy reportedly revealed traces of skin tissue under her fingernails.

No one has ever been charged with the crime.

And family members expressed frustration, claiming they’ve heard very little from police in the years since the murder.

But last fall, they said investigators reached out to them and told them police did obtain DNA evidence in the case.

Family members said investigators told them they were awaiting a grant to pay to get the DNA tested.

“We do have evidence that we don’t have, we can’t afford to send it in. It cost too much money. After the officer left, it started eating away at me. I was like, wait a minute. This is a homicide. How can you not send DNA if you have it? If you have it, why can’t you send it?” said Kathy Waggoner.

“We’re able to get money if we have to send stuff out,” said Limani, who added that money isn’t the issue.

“if we think that the thing that we have and that test will solve based on the thing we have, then we’re going to pay for it, obviously. That’s a no-brainer,” said Limani.

Limani told Target 11 that police collected 50 pieces of evidence and interviewed hundreds of people over the years.

One of those interviewed just came forward last year.

“He said, ‘I have story to tell you,’” said Toni Fiumara, who went to grade school with Debbie and started a Facebook page about the unsolved murder.

She said a man reached out to her via Facebook and told her a shocking, almost unbelievable story about a conversation he had with a woman years ago.

“She was crying and upset, saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ And he’s like, ‘What’s wrong?’ And she said, ‘My boyfriend killed that poor girl from the car wash,’” said Fiumara.

Target 11 spoke with that man by phone from his home in Texas.

He didn’t want us to use his name.

He said shortly after the crime, a friend told him her boyfriend had killed the girl at the car wash.

He was a teenager at the time and he said he told his mother and she said she would make a phone call.

They never talked about it again.

Then, he said he saw the Facebook post about the unsolved murder of Deborah Waggoner.

He reached out to Fiumara, and she put him in touch with State Police in Greensburg, who are investigating the murder.

The man told me he spoke at length with an investigator but said he never heard back.

“We’ve been conducting interviews. None of this has stopped. There’s somebody out there that has a piece of information that I think could solve the case of Deborah Waggoner,” said Limani.

“I just know Debbie didn’t deserve this, and whoever did this needs to pay for what they did,” said Fiumara.

“Something needs to be done, really. Answers. We just want answers. I would like to put everyone at rest,” said Kathy Waggoner.

Family members said police told them Debbie was not sexually assaulted or robbed and they said her boyfriend cooperated with investigators and even passed a polygraph test.

Today, 32 years later, there’s still a $2,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.

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