CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A man serving a life sentence for murder in Ohio will be charged in a 1972 shooting death along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Franklin County, prosecutors announced Friday.
District Attorney Matthew Fogal said he has approved the filing of a criminal complaint charging Larry Via with first-degree murder and robbery in the killing of Morgan Peters.
Peters was a nationally recognized wrestler who grew up in Allentown and sold exercise equipment. On Sept. 17, 1972, the 29-year-old father of three left his home in New York and headed for Latrobe.
On Sept. 20, his body was found along the Turnpike in Metal Township, near the Willow Hill exit. He had been shot in the back.
Via became a person of interest in 2009 when investigators conducting a case review discovered he had been involved in shootings and robberies while traveling through Ohio and Kentucky in 1972.
During one of the robberies on Sept. 4, 1972, an Ohio man was tied up and shot in the head after stopping to help a pair of hitchhikers. He survived and identified Via and Charmaine Phillips as the pair who robbed and shot him.
On Sept. 22, 1972, just days after Peters was killed, Via raped and fatally shot a woman at an Ohio rest stop. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
In 2010, Phillips told police she recalled traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike with Via in 1972. She said at one point, Via asked her to pull to the side of the road.
When another vehicle stopped behind them, Phillips said Via got out of the car for a few minutes then returned and said, “We gotta go.” She said she did not hear a gunshot.