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Trial Scheduled for Two Accused of Penn State Professor's Murder

by on September 27, 2017 3:08 PM

Two people charged with murder in the August 2016 death of Penn State professor Ronald Bettig will go to trial in October.

George G. Ishler Jr., 40, and Danelle R. Geier, 33, are accused of luring Bettig, of Lemont, to a Potter Township quarry where Ishler allegedly pushed the 56-year-old Bettig off a ledge, causing him to fall 80 feet. A medical examiner said Bettig died from blunt force trauma caused by the fall and may have been alive and unable to move for up to two days before his death.

Investigators said Ishler and Geier believed they could profit from Bettig's death.

Centre County President Judge Pamela Ruest signed an order scheduling their joint trial for Oct. 9-12 and continuing Oct. 16-24, according to court records. Jury selection is scheduled for Oct. 5-6.

Earlier this year, Ruest denied Ishler's motion to suppress his confession to police as well as motions to sever Ishler's and Geier's cases.

Both are charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, aggravated assault and tampering with evidence.

Ishler allegedly told police that he had handwritten a will that Bettig, an assistant professor of communications at Penn State, signed and that Ishler held the only copy in his Pennsylvania Furnace home. Ishler and Geier also were allegedly upset with Bettig's criticism of how Geier was raising her child and that he had been "belittling" Ishler.

Police said that on Aug. 10, 2016, the three, along with Geier's child, traveled to Rehoboth Beach, Del., where Ishler and Geier planned to drown Bettig. They did not go through with it but on their return on Aug. 12 allegedly hatched the plan to tell Bettig that Ishler had marijuana plants growing at the Potter Township quarry that they could harvest and smoke. Police said they drove to the quarry between 3:30-4 p.m. upon their return to Centre County and while Geier waited in the car, Ishler and Bettig walked through a wooded area to the quarry, where Ishler allegedly pushed Bettig over the ledge.

They later returned Bettig's car to the quarry and staged the scene to look like Bettig was there alone, police said. On Aug. 15 they reported Bettig missing and Bettig's car was discovered on Aug. 17. Police said they were led to the area where Bettig's body was found by buzzards flying overhead.

Geier admitted that she and Ishler had planned together to kill Bettig, according to court documents. In an interview with State College and Pennsylvania State Police, Ishler allegedly changed his story several times before giving a full statement implicating him and Geier. 

In his failed motion to suppress the confession, Ishler claimed he was not properly given warnings about his Miranda rights and that he was coerced into making the confession.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at geoff.rushton@statecollege.com or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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