Elderly York County man guilty of killing wife in '81, dumping body in river

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
William Walter Korzon

An elderly York County man with a history of beating his wife has now admitted to killing her in 1981 when they lived in Bucks County.

William Walter Korzon, 76, pleaded guilty Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Bucks County Court to the felonies of voluntary manslaughter, perjury and forgery, according to James O'Malley, spokesman for the Bucks County District Attorney's Office.

Korzon was sentenced to a total of 7½ to 15 years in prison, according to his Doylestown-based defense attorney, Keith Williams.

"This is basically going to amount to a life sentence for him," Williams said during a news conference after the hearing.

Korzon was living on Barcroft Road in Lower Windsor Township when he was arrested April 18 at his home, taken to Bucks County and charged with homicide and related offenses.

Williams said his client "was living like a hermit in York County" and has shown remorse for the homicide.

Police said the investigation into the disappearance of Gloria Korzon had been ongoing since 1981, when the Korzons lived in Bucks County. She was declared dead in 1997, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub has said.

Shot wife in the head: Prosecutors on Wednesday read a nine-page statement into the record that revealed William Korzon confessed to investigators earlier this month that on March 7, 1981, he and Gloria Korzon were arguing when she fired a 9 mm handgun at him.

William Korzon claims the bullet missed him, that they struggled for the gun and that he shot his wife in the head after gaining control of the gun, according to the prosecution's statement.

Homicide victim Gloria Korzon

He told investigators he stuffed Gloria Korzon's body into a 55-gallon plastic trash can and kept it in his house until the next morning, when he put it in his boat, towed the boat to New Jersey and dumped his dead wife's body into the Delaware River, the statement reads.

"Korzon said he continued to use the trashcan until it broke years later," according to the statement. "The boat remained in his possession and was in the driveway of his York, PA cabin at the time of his arrest."

William Korzon admitted to causing a "pattern of domestic violence which ultimately led to Gloria's death," the statement reads.

Williams, the defense attorney, said his client has expressed remorse.

"I think he's taken full responsibility," Williams said.

Admitted batterer: William Korzon has admitted that he beat and battered Gloria Korzon for years after their marriage in January 1967, according to court documents.

In December 1967, he was arrested in Springfield, Massachusetts, for threatening to kill her, after which he was committed to a state mental hospital there and eventually moved to a veterans hospital in Connecticut, according to documents.

The Korzons moved to the Philadelphia area in 1968. Between that time and 1981, various police agencies in the area investigated numerous violent assaults in which William Korzon assaulted and threatened to kill his wife, according to court documents.

Those assaults left her with injuries including a broken arm, broken collarbone and  bruising and damage to the bones in her nose — many of which required hospitalizations, documents state.

William Walter Korzon

"Gloria documented Korzon's history of abuse against her in a series of letters she wrote to her attorney," according to documents. "She also sent a letter to her father and advised him not to open it unless something happened to her."

She disappeared March 6, 1981, after which "It is as though she ceased to exist," according to documents.

Lied, concealed, profited? "Within days, William Korzon went to Gloria's place of employment and advised her manager to terminate her because of poor mental and physical health," court documents state. "He retrieved her belongings and requested that her final paycheck be sent to their home."

He forged her signature on checks issued to her and filed a joint income tax return four months after she went missing, according to police.

"In the months and years following Gloria's disappearance, William Korzon engaged in a series of actions to lie, conceal and profit" from his wife's disappearance and death, documents state. "He forged documents, lied to police investigators and perjured himself in court, all in an effort to give the appearance that Gloria was still alive."

In 1986, her driver's license, Social Security card, medical insurance card and voter registration card were found in William Korzon's home and were given to police by his girlfriend at the time, documents state.

Tried to have cop killed? Court documents allege that in the months after his wife's disappearance, William Korzon tried to enlist a former tenant of his Bucks County home to kill a police officer.

The former tenant in 1986 told police that William Korzon solicited him "to help ambush and murder Sgt. Joseph Adams of the Warrington Township Police Department and that Sgt. Adams should be 'blown away,'" court documents allege.

Adams was one of the officers investigating Gloria Korzon's disappearance, police said.

Charges of solicitation to commit homicide were dropped at Wednesday's guilty-plea hearing, according to O'Malley.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.