Tree Trimmer Indicted In Pa. Woman's Slaying

Van Metre First Must Face Rape Trial In Pa.

December 08, 1991|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — A 34-year-old tree trimmer was indicted by a Carroll grand jury Thursday in the Taneytown slaying of a Gettysburg, Pa., woman.

James Howard Van Metre formerly of East Berlin, Pa., was indicted on chargesof first- and second-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, manslaughter and battery in the death of Holly Haynes Blake.

State police began investigating Van Metre in connection with Blake's disappearance when ashes and suspected human bone fragments werefound on a farm in the 4700 block of Baptist Road in Taneytown.

Police in Westminster and Gettysburg thought the remains to be those of Blake, a 28-year-old woman reported missing Sept. 26 by her estranged husband.

Blake was seen that day getting into a cream-colored Subaru with Tennessee plates registered to Van Metre, said Lt. WilliamConway, commander of the Criminal Investigations section of the Pennsylvania State Police in Harrisburg.

Conway said Blake, the motherof two young girls, was seen getting into the car in front of the Distelfink Restaurant in the 2700 block of Old Harrisburg Road.

Blake knew Van Metre from her job at Spangler's Restaurant in Gettysburg,Conway said.

Conway said police questioned Van Metre after Blake disappeared, but he told them that he had dropped Blake off at a Gettysburg convenience store the afternoon of Sept. 26.

Van Metre was picked up Oct. 5 in Chattanooga, Tenn., on a 1987 bench warrant for violating a protection from abuse order filed by his estranged wife and was questioned further on Blake's disappearance, Conway said.

Hewaived extradition proceedings and was returned to Pennsylvania the next day.

Police said they believe Van Metre drove Blake to the Harney farm, where Van Metre's brother rents a home, according to Cpl. Wayne Moffatt of the Westminster barracks.

A fight ensued and Blake was strangled, Moffatt said.

Police say they believe Blake's body was burned and the ashes scattered.

The state police crime lab has identified the ashes and bone fragments as belonging to Blake, Moffatt said.

Van Metre was charged Oct. 7 with burglary, kidnapping,unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, three counts of rape, two counts of involuntary deviant sex and two counts of simple assault in aseparate attack on a woman who lives near his parents' East Berlin home.

Police say they believe Van Metre saw the woman working in her yard, then returned later that night and forced her at knifepoint into a waiting car.

They say the woman was driven to a secluded area, attacked and then released.

Van Metre was being held on $250,000 bond Friday at the Adams County Detention Center on the rape charges.

A detainer has been filed against Van Metre in Adams County, and he will be brought to Carroll to stand trial on the murder charge after he is tried on the rape charges there, Tfc. Doug Wehland said.

If Van Metre is found guilty of the rape charges and the murder charges, he would serve his Pennsylvania term first, and then serve his Maryland sentence, Wehland said.

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