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N.J. man held without bond in wife's death

June 29, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Stephen Vanderbeek, accused in the murder of his wife 10 years ago, waived extradition from New Jersey this week and was ordered held without bond following his arraignment in Fulton County.

Cpl. William Baker, an investigating officer in the case that used a missing persons Web site to make an arrest, said Vanderbeek, 51, of Ridgewood, N.J., was brought to McConnellsburg on Monday. He was arraigned at 6:30 p.m. by Magisterial District Judge Wendy Richards Mellott, who sent him to the Bedford (Pa.) County Prison pending a preliminary hearing.

Mellott scheduled the hearing for 10:30 a.m. July 6 in her McConnellsburg courtroom.

Vanderbeek is accused of strangling his wife, Cynthia Vanderbeek, between March 22, 1995, and March 28, 1995, and leaving her brush-covered body in a wooded area off Fire Tire Road in Fulton County, police said. Her decomposed body was found by a jogger May 1, 1995.

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State police investigators were unable to identify the woman.

The victim's mother and sister in Montgomery County, Md., concerned because she failed to show up for the christening of a family member, reported her missing to police.

Montgomery County Detective Robert Nichols, unaware of the investigation in Fulton County, started his own missing persons case.

Police in both jurisdictions kept their investigations alive for years. They were connected in April 2004 when Baker and Cpl. Roger Smith entered their case in the Doe Network, a volunteer group that helps law enforcement agencies investigate cold cases involving unexplained disappearances and unidentified victims.

The network connected Cynthia Vanderbeek with Nichols' missing person case. The connection, plus information from her relatives, led Nichols to Stephen Vanderbeek, police said last week.

Vanderbeek was working as a self-employed handyman in New Jersey at the time of his arrest, police said.

Before Cynthia Vanderbeek's death, the couple, who lived in Florida, made their living traveling the boat show circuit on the East Coast selling clothing and boating supplies.

Nichols will be present for Vanderbeek's preliminary hearing, Baker said.

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