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Pa. police make arrest in 1985 slaying of boy, 13
1985 Slaying Arrest 5582856
Joseph Geiger, 43, of Pottsville, Pa., center, is escorted by Cpl. Robert Betnar from the Pennsylvania State Police station in Schuylkill Haven, Pa. Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008, after Geiger was arrested in the 1985 homicide of David Reed. Reed, whose remains were found in a wooded area just outside of Cressona, Pa., four months after he was reported missing, was 13 at the time of his death. - photo by Associated Press
    SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. — Police arrested a man Thursday in the 1985 killing of a 13-year-old boy whose body was found months after he left home on a bicycle. The fatal beating was apparently sparked by an argument over stolen marijuana plants, authorities said.
    Police arrested Joseph Geiger on the 23rd anniversary of David Reed’s disappearance after leaving home in Schuylkill Haven.
    ‘‘We got him,’’ said state police Sgt. Craig Stine.
    Geiger was arrested by state police as he left his home. He was arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of third-degree murder and related counts.
    On his way into court, Geiger said, ‘‘I didn’t do it.’’
    Geiger, who is unemployed, held his head in hands and squeezed his eyes shut as he sat at the defense table. He said he couldn’t afford a lawyer.
    In an affidavit, state police said Geiger gave conflicting stories, but police believe he thought Reed was stealing his marijuana plants and confronted him after they went into a parked caboose to smoke pot.
    They believe Geiger punched the teen in the face, causing Reed to fall backward into a metal wall, possibly cracking his skull, the affidavit said. The affidavit quotes other witnesses as saying Reed had been seen using or possessing marijuana.
    Until recently, Reed’s death had been classified as ‘‘undetermined.’’ State police exhumed the body in January after turning up new evidence. After studying the remains, officials ruled in early July that the case was a homicide. They also said at the time that they had identified a suspect.
    The boy’s badly decomposed remains were found in a remote thicket on the edge of town in December 1985, about a half-mile from his bicycle. Two experts had initially theorized the boy might have succumbed to an undiagnosed case of diabetes.
    Reed’s relatives had welcomed the renewed attention, saying the original investigation was inadequate.
    ‘‘The feeling is hard to describe. After all these years, I never thought it would come down to this. You give up hope,’’ David’s brother, Joseph Reed, of Fort Myers, Fla., said Thursday.
    A sister who had encouraged police to pursue the case died last year, and their mother died in 2001.
    Joseph Reed said he was barely acquainted with Geiger but recalled that in the months after David’s disappearance, Geiger ‘‘would say ’Hi,’ like nothing happened. I wish I knew back then what I know today.’’
    Schuylkill Haven is about 75 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

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