W. WHITE Jr.
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder:
2008 (30 years later)
Date of birth: 1957
Victim profile: Virginia
Method of murder:
Location: Northampton County, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty.
Sentenced to life in prison on March 18, 2009
Robert W. White Jr. pleads guilty,
sentenced to life in prison for 1978 murder of Virginia Morrell
March 18, 2009
Two and a half days into his murder trial, Robert
W. White Jr., pleaded guilty to the 1978 murder of Virginia Morrell.
Morrell told the judge his plea to first-degree
murder, in part, was made so he could avoid the death penalty. A first-degree
murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence.
Before sentencing, Morrell's sister, Marilyn
Belmonte, read a prepared statement to Northampton County Judge Stephen
"We can only hope, this man, not man --
animal," she said, "gets the maximum sentence you can
"Robert White should rot in hell,"
A call of "Here, here" and "amen" came from Morrell's
family and friends in the courtroom. They clapped when White was led
from the courtroom with his arms shackled.
The plea came after earlier testimony in which three
women said White attacked them between 1978 and 1982. White killed
Morrell on Halloween in 1978.
A woman from Richmond, Va., said White raped her
while her baby cried in a crib. Another woman from Richmond said she
fought off what she believe would be a rape by White.
A Forks Township woman said White pinned her in a
bathroom stall at a township restaurant and sexually assaulted her.
Jason Gerlach, a juror from Palmer Township, said the
women's testimony was convincing.
"It was very powerful," he said.
"They were sharp. They were emotional. They stared him down
... I think (White) realized we were paying attention. I think they
ultimately understood what they were doing" to his case.
White pleaded at 1:37 this afternoon. Defense
attorneys said White asked for the plea during a recess that followed
the women's testimony.
Prosecutors spent the first two days of testimony
questioning Morrell's sister, the medical examiner who conducted the
autopsy on Morrell and White's ex-wife, who remembered a laundry rope,
mask and knife disappeared from her home the day Morrell was killed.
Officials: 30-year murder case
March 20, 2008
A 50-year-old man was arrested
Tuesday in Virginia on charges he murdered a 21-year-old
woman in Easton 30 years ago, officials said this
Robert W. White Jr., who spent
several years living in Easton before returning to
his home state of Virginia, will be charged with
with the 1978 murder of Virginia Morrell when he is
extradited to Pennsylvania, Northampton County
District Attorney John Morganelli said. White
currently is being held in Roanoke, Va., city jail
charged with being a fugitive, police said.
On Feb. 28, Easton police served
a search warrant in Roanoke seeking a DNA sample
from White, a convicted sex offender, in connection
with Morrell's killing. A preliminary test matched
White with evidence recovered from the murder of the
1975 Phillipsburg High School graduate. She was
found dead of asphyxiation Nov. 1, 1978, in her Ann
White lived with his wife in an
apartment across the hall from Morrell at the time
of her murder, police said. He served prison time
for an attempted rape in 1979 and was convicted in
another rape and abduction that occurred less than a
year after he was paroled. He was sentenced in 1982
to 40 years in state prison and has been free since
face a single count of criminal
homicide, according to court
Det. Daniel Regan began
investigating the cold case last
March. According to an affidavit
of probable cause, DNA found on
a nightgown found under
Morrell's body and tested last
year matched White's DNA.
nude body was found on her
apartment floor with her hands
bound behind her back.
Authorities said she died of
asphyxia; her nose and mouth had
been covered with masking tape.
interview with White's ex-wife
last month, Regan said in court
records that she identified a
picture of the rope used to bind
Morrell's hands as the type of
clothesline missing from her
apartment bathroom around the
time of the killing. She
remembered that because the
night before the killing was
discovered was her son's first
Halloween -- Oct. 31, 1978,
according to the affidavit.
held for court in 30-year-old
man who is
30 years ago
body of the
back Nov. 1,
1978, in her
able to shed
new light on
March 25 in
to the crime.