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Nearly 40 years later, Bucks DA charges man in wife’s cold-case murder

"Did you find the body?" William Korzon, 78, is accused of murdering his wife and forging documents to hide her disappearance in 1981.

William Korzon, 78, is escorted out of district court in Jamison after his arraignment on Thursday. He's accused of murdering his wife, Gloria, in 1981.
William Korzon, 78, is escorted out of district court in Jamison after his arraignment on Thursday. He's accused of murdering his wife, Gloria, in 1981.Read moreVinny Vella / Staff (custom credit)

After decades of questioning and prodding, William Korzon allegedly let slip a short question that landed him in prison.

“Did you find the body?” investigators in Bucks County said he asked them earlier this year.

Korzon, 76, was arrested Thursday morning at his home in York County, charged with the murder of his wife, Gloria, who disappeared in 1981 shortly after leaving work. He also has been charged with forging Gloria’s name on tax documents and greeting cards to “keep up appearances,” and soliciting a neighbor to help him, in an aborted plot, to murder a Warrington Township police officer who was investigating Gloria’s disappearance.

Magisterial District Judge Jean Seaman denied Korzon bail, and he was taken into custody after a short arraignment in Jamison. Keith Williams, a Doylestown lawyer, has been appointed Korzon’s public defender.

As he was led out of the courtroom, Korzon told reporters he had “no idea” where his wife’s body is, and denied killing her.

“She went to Florida,” Korzon said in a flat monotone, his eyes cast down.

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub vehemently discredited that claim.

Gloria Korzon was declared legally dead by a county judge in 1997. She was 38 when she left the home she shared with her husband for the last time, according to an arrest affidavit filed Thursday.

“There is absolutely no evidence of her continued existence for 38 years after that fateful day," Weintraub said. “There is, however, evidence of her demise and of deception by Korzon."

Weintraub said an investigative grand jury “served an integral, pivotal role” in this case, which was referred to his office last year by detectives in Warrington Township. The prosecutor declined to elaborate on the grand jury, the proceedings of which remain under seal.

He voiced disappointment, however, in being unable to locate Gloria Korzon’s remains, and noted their absence as an obstacle for his office.

“This prosecution will be difficult,” he said, “but difficulty in prosecuting is not an excuse.”

Ralph Kidder, Gloria Korzon’s younger brother, said Thursday that the news of his brother-in-law’s arrest had, finally, given him some hope of closure.

“All I can say is that I hope justice is going to be served, and that if he is the one that did it, that he tells everybody where she is and what happened to her, so we can finally put it to rest,” Kidder, 68, said from his home in Massachusetts. “It’s been very disheartening that we never knew where she was, and, even after this today, we still don’t.”

The affidavit filed in Korzon’s arrest lays out a decades-long pattern of abuse and rage in a tumultuous marriage.

Just under a year after their wedding day in 1967, Korzon was arrested in Springfield, Mass., for “threatening to kill Gloria,” the affidavit states. He was committed to a mental hospital in Massachusetts after his arrest and later underwent a surgical procedure on his thyroid in Connecticut to “reduce his aggressive tendencies.”

The couple relocated to the region a year later.

Over the next 13 years, Korzon was the subject of multiple domestic-violence investigations. His wife suffered various injuries during these reported assaults, many of which required hospitalizations, the affidavit states. Gloria Korzon documented this abuse in letters to her attorney, and an additional letter was sent to her father with the instructions to not open it “unless something happened to her.”

She filed for a protection-from-abuse order in June 1980, after a domestic assault in which she received fractures to her head and neck, according to her husband’s arrest affidavit. She later withdrew it because he "had bought her a ring.”

She was seen for the last time on March 6, 1981, when she left early from her shift as an assembly-line worker at Bridgeport Controls in Horsham. Days later, William Korzon went to the electronics firm and told her supervisor to fire her “because of poor mental and physical health.”

At the time, police in Warrington served multiple search warrants on the couple’s home but found no definitive answers. Investigators dug up the Korzons’ backyard twice, finding only the remains of the family’s German shepherd, Max.

Meanwhile, William Korzon “engaged in a series of actions to lie, conceal, and profit” from his wife’s disappearance, investigators said.

Months after his wife was last seen, Korzon forged her signature on two checks and filed their joint income tax return, the affidavit states. He also sent a Mother’s Day card to her mother, a move he admitted earlier this year was done to “keep up appearances that Gloria was still alive.”

In 1986, a former tenant who once lived in Korzon’s home told police that Korzon had solicited him to help “ambush and murder” Warrington Police Sgt. Joseph Adams. That same year, Korzon’s girlfriend handed over Gloria Korzon’s driver’s license, Social Security card, and other personal documents to police. She said she had found them in his home.

The following year, Korzon pursued, and was granted, a divorce on the grounds that his wife had deserted him. He later admitted that he had lied during hearings in that case, in which he claimed that Gloria had regularly contacted him after her disappearance.

In more recent interviews, earlier this year, Korzon admitted to “having battered Gloria for years."

He also admitted to forging his wife’s last paycheck and other financial documents to illegally access her money, according to his arrest affidavit.

And it was also during an interview this year that Korzon asked prosecutors the fateful question about his wife’s body.