Father-in-law expected to plead guilty

Kenneth Wayne Leighty is expected to plead guilty to the 1999 slaying of his daughter-in-law, Sherry Jean Leighty, according to the Huntingdon County District Attorney.

Kenneth Leighty, 66, will likely enter his plea today in Huntingdon County Court, but the details behind the plea have not been divulged.

“It’s my understanding he’s going to appear and enter a guilty plea,” Huntingdon County District Attorney George Zanic said Wednesday. Zanic declined to discuss the case further pending today’s proceedings before Huntingdon County Judge Stewart Kurtz.

Sherry Jean Leighty’s remains were found May 1 on a 155-acre property in Warriors Mark Township after Kenneth Leighty, who was charged with homicide May 13, showed searchers where to look, according to police.

Sherry Jean Leighty, then a 23-year-old mother of three in the midst of a divorce from Kenneth Leighty’s son, disappeared in the fall of 1999. The case remained unsolved until an Altoona police detective was given the cold case in August 2012.

Altoona police Detective Cpl. Matthew Starr developed leads in the case that lead to the involvement of the state police and culminated with a confrontation between Kenneth Leighty and officers in April of this year.

State and Altoona police were at Kenneth Leighty’s Altoona home April 19 to take him for further questioning in the case. Kenneth Leighty originally told police in 1999 that he last saw his daughter-in-law when he drove her to work Oct. 1, but police found problems with his story. Leighty again told investigators in October 2012 that he dropped Sherry Jean Leighty off near Labor Ready and then drove to his workplace, VeederRoot, but police learned he was off work between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4, court records show.

When police tried to take Kenneth Leighty on April 19, he assaulted several officers and later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault of a police officer.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.