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Tamaqua woman's body found at Flagstaff

  • Angela Steigerwalt
    Angela Steigerwalt
Published February 03. 2014 05:01PM

A grisly murder scenario unfolded over the weekend as the burned body of a Tamaqua woman was discovered in shrubbery atop the Flagstaff Mountain.

The woman was identified by relatives as Angela (Serfass) Steigerwalt, 35, a lifelong resident of Tamaqua.

She reportedly was last seen by her family Friday night when she left for work at Kraft Foods in Fogelsville.

Her body was discovered just before 10 a.m. Saturday when the Jim Thorpe Fire Department was called to a brush fire atop the Flagstaff, and discovered the victim ablaze.

Steigerwalt's body had been tossed down a steep, 15- to 20-foot embankment into laurel bushes, and was still burning.

A discarded piece of a utility pole stopped the body from falling farther down the embankment.

Her uncle, TIMES NEWS Managing Editor-Features Donald Serfass, said the family was advised that her car was located in North Carolina. Police reportedly have a person in custody in North Carolina and were expected to travel there today to question him.

If he is a viable suspect, he will be extradited to Pennsylvania for arrest and legal proceedings.

Jim Thorpe Borough Police initially responded. They turned the investigation over to a specialized crime unit of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Steigerwalt was pronounced dead by Carbon County Coroner Bruce Nalesnik, who said an autopsy was scheduled for this morning.

Nalesnik said the victim was identified through dental records.

Troopers from the Hazleton and Frackville barracks from that investigation team were at the scene much of the day Saturday and Sunday.

State police have so far issued few details, noting the case is still under investigation.

They ask that if anyone has information, to call them at 610-377-4270.

Steigerwalt and her husband, Gary, reside in Tamaqua with Gary's son, Brendon.

Four years ago in January, Gary suffered another tragedy when another son was killed in a motorcycle crash that reportedly was the other person's fault.

Gary wrote on his Facebook page, "Friday night I lost my best friend and the best wife a guy could have. She was murdered by some guy. They found her Saturday morning. Caught the guy in NC with her car today. Need lots prayers for Brendon and I to help us through this."

On behalf of his family, Donald Serfass issued the following statement last night:

"The Serfass and Steigerwalt families thank you for your thoughtfulness and caring. A beautiful, loving, young woman has been taken from us at the prime of her life and we're struggling for answers.

"We have complete faith in the Pennsylvania State Police who are leaving no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this tragedy. Please know that your support is a great comfort and means more than words can express."

Serfass said Sunday, "She was a beautiful girl. She was beautiful inside and out."

He said she treated Brendon like her own son.

"She doted over him. She was full of love and would help anyone who needed help.

"She trusted everyone," he said. "She had that small-town backbone."

He said she supported animal welfare and loved dogs.

"She had a pet dog and was big into finding lost animals," he said.

He concluded, "She was just a beautiful person. And she worked hard. She was committed to a successful career in warehouse and inventory management in the Lehigh Valley and had moved to Kraft Foods recently, where her husband has been employed for over 35 years."

Friends respond

Angela was a 1996 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School. Remarks flooded the TIMES NEWS Facebook page as well as other people's pages.

Comments included everything from "Such a senseless horrible tragedy. God bless the family" to "I will never understand the evil of some people, to take away another person's sickening."

Remarks from some of her high school friends on Facebook:

Donald Knoblauch: "This just isn't fair! My heart goes out to the Steigerwalt family. Angie, you will be missed by so many. No one knows why God would allow this to happen. They always say God has His reasons. God bless you."

Heather Sinn Wensel: "I can't comprehend this! RIP sweet girl. God bless your family!"

Kathy Kunkel contributed to this story.

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