Community Reacts to New Twist in Pastor Homicide Case

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A former pastor is locked up in Monroe County, accused of killing his second wife and staging a car accident to cover his tracks.

The news twist is now the death of his first wife has been ruled a homicide more than a decade after she died.

Arthur Schirmer has been in the Monroe County prison since 2010, awaiting trial in the death of his second wife, Betty.

Now the district attorney in Lebanon County says the death of Schirmer`s first wife, Jewell, who died in 1999, is a homicide.

No new charges have been filed against Schirmer, however many in Schirmer`s community of Reeders said this case gets more and more bizarre.

“They’ll probably make a movie out if out,” said Bill DeWeese.

Schirmer was the pastor of Reeders United Methodist Church in 2008 when his second wife, Betty, was found dead following a car crash on Route 715.

It was initially ruled an accident until investigators said a man committed suicide inside the church, claiming Pastor Schirmer was having an affair with his wife.

Investigators reopened Betty Schirmer's case and alleged Schirmer beat his wife, put her in the car and staged the crash.

Her death was ruled a homicide.

People believe more twists will come out at trial.

“The man that supposedly committed suicide in the church, I don’t think they’re saying enough about that,” said Lisa Macauley of Reeders. “I don’t think he committed suicide at all. It makes me wonder.”

“Sounds like it’s something that is definitely connected and things aren’t going to be looking too good his way,” said Jeanne Clingingsmith of Snydersville.

Jewell Schirmer`s death was ruled undetermined in 1999.

Schirmer had said she fell down the stairs inside their Lebanon County home.

The Lebanon County district attorney reopened the case in 2010, following Schirmer's charges in Monroe County.

While Jewell Schirmer's death is now a homicide and no charges have been filed, the district attorney said her case remains under investigation.

“You want justice served. You want the truth to come out,” said Brenda Read-Harber of Swiftwater.

Schirmer's attorney in Monroe County declined to comment.

Calls to the Monroe County district attorney's office were not returned.