ALLENTOWN - A New York state man was charged with murder yesterday in the 2006 shotgun slayings of a prominent attorney and his wife in northern Pennsylvania, a crime that investigators believe stemmed from a family dispute.
John DeSisti, 73, of Waverly, N.Y., was accused of ambushing his cousin Carol Keeffe, 60, and her husband, David Keeffe, 56, as they were coming home from an outing on Nov. 17, 2006.
Their bodies were found two days later in the garage of their home on a secluded 300-acre compound in Athens Township, outside Sayre. Each had been shot multiple times in the head, first with a shotgun and then with a .22-caliber handgun, according to court papers.
Investigators believe that DeSisti killed the couple over a long-running land dispute, State Police said in a news release yesterday. A statewide grand jury recommended that he be charged with two counts of murder and one count of burglary.
DeSisti was brought before a district judge yesterday and locked up without bail.
The suspect was a trapper whose 7-acre tract abutted a 77-acre tract owned by Carol Keeffe. They fought for years over the property boundary, with Carol Keeffe complaining that DeSisti had erected buildings that encroached on her land, and DeSisti insisting that he owned the land, according to a grand-jury report released yesterday.
"The dispute crystallized, and intensified, in the weeks leading up to the murders, due to Carol Keeffe's having the land logged and surveyed . . . to ascertain whether any of John J. DeSisti's buildings were on her property." She intended to have any unauthorized buildings torn down, the grand-jury report said.
The day before the killings, "Carol Keeffe had an argument with her father, Michael DeSisti, who was opposed to the survey because he was afraid of what [the suspect] might do as a result," the report continued. Mrs. Keeffe persisted, labeling her cousin as a "big bully" who "keeps taking more and more," the grand jury said.
David Keeffe was president of the Bradford County Bar Association and a partner in the Sayre law firm of DeSisti and Keeffe. The firm was founded by Michael DeSisti - Carol Keeffe's father and the suspect's uncle.