Police: Elderly man’s death was homicide

MONTOURSVILLE – The death of an elderly man found dead in his Eldred Township home early Thursday morning has been ruled a homicide, according to state police.

An autopsy completed on Friday determined that Donald Kleese Jr,, 82, was murdered in his home on Quaker Hill Road, police said.

Investigators remained mum on how Kleese was slain and declined to answer many questions about their ongoing investigation. A relative found Kleese’s body about 6:30 a.m.

“There is no reason to believe that the public is in any danger,” a crime supervisor at the state police barracks said.

When asked if someone was in custody, he would only say “We will confirm the custody issue at a later date.” He said police were pleased with how the investigation was progressing.

The supervisor confirmed Friday that Kleese’s 2005 Subaru Outback had been stolen from the home and that it was “later recovered,” but he declined to say way.

“We have no other information to put out,” he said.

Kleese’s wife of 55 years, Beverly Wheeland Kleese, died in late January 2013.

Kleese, a retired Avco employee who lived alone, was an avid bicyclist who, until just two or three years ago, “probably rode 70 to 80 miles a week,” according to Jeff Judd, owner of J.R. Judd Violins on Lycoming Creek Road.

“He was a great guy, a hard worker. His attention to detail was phenomenal. That’s why I hired him,” Judd said of Kleese, who worked at the business from 2011 to last year.

“You need someone who has that attribute to detail working in a violin shop,” he said.

“Don cleaned and restored most of our rental fleet, working full-time to restore all our instruments, getting them ready so that we could get them out to children,” Judd said.

“He carved new bridges and parts, and put new strings on our instruments. He also repaired (violin) cases,” Judd said.

Kleese was “very much into bike riding,” he added.

Neighbor Brian Hyde, an excavator, also remembers seeing Kleese “riding his bike all the time. My wife just saw him late Tuesday afternoon pushing his bike up a hill near the house.”

Hyde said that Kleese “was in good shape.” He also said that Kleese’s home was “surrounded by family members.”

“He rode his bike a lot. For his age, it was nothing for him to ride 10 to 15 miles a day,” said another neighbor, who did not want his name published.

“Police came over and talked to us, but they didn’t want too much information out,” the man said.

Kleese “was very interested in music,” and he had a strong faith in God, the neighbor said. “He attended church regularly in Williamsport,” he said.

“Everyone out here knew him,” he added.

If Kleese needed any work done on his mountain bike, it was done at Marty’s Bicycle Shop in Muncy, according to Marty Wolfgang, store owner.

Often times, Kleese donned a straw hat when he came into the shop.

“He was a great long-time customer,” Wolfgang said, adding he was “at a loss for words” after a reporter informed him of the man’s death.

“He was in here just last week about some bike-related issue,” Wolfgang said.

“He was always fun to talk to, a nice man,” Wolfgang said. of Kleese.

“I will have extremely fond memories of him,” he added.