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A man has been placed under arrest after DNA allegedly connected him to the fatal stabbing of his elderly grandmother in one of a Pennsylvania county’s coldest cases.
Jeremy Clarke Brock, 55, was arrested on Monday in Austin, Texas for the 1988 murder of his grandmother, Helen Vogt, 76, at her Erie, Pennsylvania home, Erie County District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz announced at a Tuesday press conference.
Erie Police were called to Vogt’s Erie townhome on the morning of July 23, 1988, after a neighbor spotted an unknown person with a towel wrapped around his head speeding off in Vogt’s 1988 Buick LeSabre.
The neighbor went to check on Vogt but found her dead on her bedroom floor.
An autopsy revealed Vogt had sustained more than 50 stab wounds to her hands, face, neck, chest and back, according to officials. She also suffered blunt force trauma to the head and face.
Erie Police Chief Dan Spizarny said that Vogt’s bed was “soaked in blood,” and that blood was also all over the house.
“[Detectives] observed blood on the carpet leading to the bathroom, on a towel in the bathroom and on a hamper,” Spizarny stated. “In the tub was a wet washcloth and some blood.”
“Next to the living room was a kitchen,” Spizarny continued. “Blood was located on the countertops, the windowsills above the sink, as well as both sides of the sink.”
The murder weapons — two kitchen knives and a two-pronged fork, both covered in blood — were found upside down in the kitchen drawer.
Blood was also found on the stairwell leading to an upstairs living room, where a briefcase had been emptied of its contents. Officials said that was where Vogt kept her money, savings bonds and personal paperwork. The dresser drawers also “appeared ransacked."
Numerous items were missing from the home, including Vogt’s credit cards, the base of a broken lamp and the victim’s purse. The suspect also took Vogt’s diamond ring, which, according to charging documents obtained by the Erie Times-News, was something “she never took off.”
There were, however, no signs of forced entry.
In follow-up interviews with neighbors, a witness who lived in the adjacent townhouse said they heard “muffled sounds similar to screaming” at around 11:30 p.m. the night before Vogt was found dead, and described sounds like someone walking up and down the stairs and moving furniture.
Investigators eventually found Vogt’s Buick at a Dayton, Ohio, parking garage near a Greyhound Bus terminal on Aug. 21, 1988 — nearly a month after her murder.
Her grandson, Jeremy Brock, has long been a suspect in the case. In the fall of 1990, detectives even obtained a warrant and went to Austin, Texas to collect DNA from Brock, which would eventually link him to the crime scene.
Photo: U.S. Marshals Service
In 2022, an examination by the Pennsylvania State Police Crime Lab helped them create a partial DNA profile from the bloody washcloth found at Vogt’s home, which included blood from both the victim and the suspect.
Investigators also tested blood found on both sides of Vogt’s kitchen sink.
“The evaluation concluded that neither Jeremy Brock nor any of his paternally-related relatives could be excluded as a contributor of this DNA,” Spizarny continued. “Therefore, the arrest warrant was obtained charging Jeremy Brock with this homicide.”
According to District Attorney Hirz, Vogt had lived in the Erie townhouse with her husband for three years before her murder. Her husband had passed away at the couple’s Florida winter home just five months before she was killed.
Vogt’s murder may have been prompted by a change in Vogt’s will and testament, according to the Erie Times-News. On July 20, 1988 — just three days before Vogt’s body was discovered — Vogt reportedly left half of her $377,982 estate (which would be $1 million in today's money) to her daughter, with the other half to be evenly distributed between Brock and his sister.
The monies meant for the grandchildren, however, were to be kept in a trust until the then-21-year-old Brock and his sister turned 30.
Brock was arrested by officials from the Erie Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police at his Austin place of employment at around 9:30 a.m. on Monday. The Austin Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service also assisted with Brock’s apprehension.
According to Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers, Brock was charged with first- and second-degree murder, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, theft, and tampering with evidence. Jail records reviewed by Oxygen.com show Brock is being held at the Travis County jail, where he awaits extradition to Pennsylvania to face prosecution.