A former Harrisburg man pleaded guilty Monday to the deaths of an Adams County woman and her daughter nearly 34 years ago.

Erasmo "Junior' Cruz, 57, pleaded to two counts of third-degree murder, according to a news release from Shawn Wagner, the Adams County district attorney.

As part of the plea agreement, Cruz faces 16 to 40 years in state prison for the 1980 murders of Nancy Patterson, then 41, and her daughter, Deborah Patterson, 17, the release says.

He will not be eligible for parole until he's 72, the release says.

Just before 3 a.m. on Aug. 30, 1980, the Patterson family woke to find that Molotov cocktails had been thrown into their Freedom Township home, setting the home alight, U.S. marshals had said.

The family ran out of the home to escape the fire only to find masked men waiting for them, marshals said.

Nancy and Deborah Patterson and a man were shot, but two younger children escaped unharmed. Nancy and Deborah Patterson died from their wounds.

Initially, Keith Patterson, a son of Nancy Patterson who did not live in the home, was charged with the murders, but he was acquitted at trial.

In late 2010, state police uncovered evidence that Cruz was the shooter. Cruz and Deborah Patterson had been in a romantic relationship that she had ended shortly before the murders, authorities said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.



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