CHAMBERSBURG, PA (Sept. 6, 2019) — A man currently serving a life sentence for murder in Ohio has been charged with the 1972 murder of a New York man on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Murder charges filed today allege Larry Joseph Via shot and killed 29-year-old Morgan Walter Peters on Sept. 18, 1972.
Via, now 75, is an inmate at a correctional facility in Marion, Ohio. He is serving a life sentence for raping and murdering an Ohio woman just days after Peters was killed.
He has been charged with both first and second-degree murder as well as armed robbery in the Franklin County case.
Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal said the charges stem from a presentment by an Investigating Grand Jury that wrapped its work up last January.
Jurors investigated, among other things, the murder of 29-year-old Morgan Walter Peters, whose body was found at the side of the turnpike on Sept. 20, 1972. The murder happened two days earlier along a stretch of turnpike in Metal Township, Franklin County.
“At the conclusion of the months-long presentation of evidence to the Grand Jury, the body of jurors issued a presentment… recommending that criminal proceedings be instituted against Via,” Fogal said in today’s news release.
Timeline Established in the Case
Fogal outlined the following timeline leading up to Peters murder:
Summer 1972: Cleveland, Ohio, based Larry Via and Charmaine Phillips extensively traveled the mid-Atlantic region together in her Cadillac. Phillips, who worked as a dancer, was armed with a .25 caliber handgun “for her protection.” During their travels that year, they were implicated in multiple robberies. They often lured passing motorists into stopping to help them by pretending to have car trouble.
Aug. 24, 1972: The Loretta Lynn Western Shop in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was robbed at gunpoint. Via and Phillips were later charged with the crime. Via used a .25 caliber handgun to commit the robbery. Phillips’ vehicle was seen parked near the store.
Sept. 4, 1972: Via and Phillips lured a man named Harvey Hoffman into stopping to give them a ride to his Ohio service station. Once there, they robbed him, tied him up and Via shot him in the head. The pair stole his vehicle, abandoned it and then fled to Virginia. But Hoffman survived. He told police the couple were hitchhiking and told him they had run out of gas. He later identified Via and Phillips.
Sept. 18, 1972: Morgan Peters pulled up behind Via and Phillips car on a remote stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Metal Township. His body was found two days later, hidden in the grass and brush off the side of the roadway. He died of a single gunshot wound in his back.
Sept. 22, 1972: Just days after Peters murder, the body of Jane Maguire was found in the woods at a rest area in Summit County, Ohio. She had been bound, raped and shot three times with a .25 caliber handgun.
Via and Phillips Convictions
Both Via and Phillips were convicted in the Hoffman shooting. Via was convicted for the murder of Jane Maguire, the crime he is serving time for in Ohio.
Phillips was interviewed multiple times over the years about the Franklin County case, including as recently as August 2017.
She told law enforcement interviewers she and Via were on their way to Ohio when they pulled onto the shoulder of the turnpike that September night. Another vehicle pulled up behind them and Via got out. She denied hearing a gunshot but said Via soon ran back to her car and said they needed to leave.
She drove her car and Via tried to drive the truck, according to the affidavit filed in the murder case today. A witness told police investigating Peters death in 1972 that he had seen both the car and Peters truck at a rest stop. He told police the truck was apparently having problems because its backup lights kept coming on.
Fogal did not outline a timeline in today’s news release for bringing Via to trial here. Charges are on record on Pennsylvanias Unified Judicial System website, however.
The charges, filed with Magisterial District Judge David Plum, include:
- Felony Murder of the First and Second Degree
- Felony Robbery With Accomplice or While Armed or by Violence