40-year-old case in Clinton County remains an active investigation
RAUCHTOWN — A 40-year-old homicide in Clinton County remains an active investigation, state police say.
But, Lt. Greg Watson, commander of the criminal section of state police Troop F at Montoursville, would not say what new has been uncovered.
The nude, sexually mutilated body of Wayne Leigh Rifendifer, 30, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was found Aug. 19, 1981, in a wooded area close to Ravensburg State Park near Rauchtown.
The location is about three miles from the Jersey Shore interchange of Interstate 80.
Rifendifer, a hitchhiker, was shot in the back of the head and struck in the face.
“He was executed,” said retired state Trooper Miles Houseknecht, who was the lead investigator.
It was determined later the same gun was used to kill another hitchhiker, Marty James Snook, 22, whose sexually mutilated body was found in Utah, he said.
Shook had hitchhiked from Sparks, Nevada, on June 12, 1982.
His body, nude except for socks, was found two days later in trees off Route 40 in Daniel’s Canyon 15 miles east of Heber City, Utah.
Both victims were of similar build and their genitals had been cut off.
The fact the two were found along well-used truck routes created speculation the killer might be a truck driver or a traveling salesman.
Houseknecht recalls thinking the cases had been solved when years later a man in San Francisco was found to have a bottle containing a male scrotum.
The preserving fluid in which the scrotum was kept had wiped away any DNA, he said.
But using autopsy photographs, an outline of where Rifendifer’s genitals had been cut away was drawn and sent to a forensic pathologist in California, he said.
He determined the scrotum in the bottle did not belong to Rifendifer, he said.
Some investigators say they believe the two slayings were not unique and that the assailant might have committed similar crimes elsewhere.
In March 1994 state police in Maryland contacted Houseknecht about a murder in which the victim was castrated, he said.
According to old news reports, the FBI developed a psychological profile of the killer and looked at killings in 1980 in Wyoming, 1983 in Georgia, and 1986 at a northern Connecticut rest stop for any possible connection.