Centre County coroner: Shamokin cop killer died of natural causes
BELLEFONTE - The death of convicted cop killer Preston Pfeifly Saturday was a result of natural causes, according to Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers Friday.
Sayers said Pfeifly, 63, who was serving a life sentence with no parole at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview, died from a gastrointestinal hemorrhage after being taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College.
He was pronounced dead by Sayers at 2:37 a.m. Oct. 12.
Pfeifly was experiencing other health issues, including pneumonia and congestive heart problems, Sayers said.
The death did not require an autopsy and Sayers said the investigation is closed.
Pfeifly was convicted Oct. 4, 1984, of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Shamokin Police Cpl. David Witmer Nov. 13, 1983. Witmer is the only police officer to have died in the line of duty in city history.
Thirty-three at the time of the shooting, Pfeifly was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He started his sentence Oct. 5, 1984.
Pfeifly, of Trevorton, fired a single gunshot that struck Witmer in the neck. Pfeifly was a self-employed truck driver residing on 11th Street who went on a jealous rampage following a drinking spree and set fire to a garage in the 1200 block of Susquehanna Street. Witmer responded from Shamokin as backup for Zerbe Township police.
After shooting and killing Witmer with a bullet fired from a deer rifle, Pfeifly attempted to escape in his tractor-trailer, but was captured at gunpoint by Shamokin Patrolman Joseph Treese.
Witmer, a nine-year veteran of the Shamokin police force, is remembered with an engraved monument at Independence and Sixth streets in the city. A wreath is placed at the monument during the Shamokin-Coal Township veterans parade each Memorial Day.
A special memorial ceremony paying tribute to Witmer was conducted on the 25th anniversary of the shooting in 2008. The 30th anniversary is Nov. 13.