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Death to be investigated as homicide

Donald Kleese Jr. was murdered in his home, state police and Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr. confirmed on Friday.

The 82-year-old man was slain in his residence at 2005 Quaker Hill Road in Eldred Township, police said, but investigators declined to say how he was killed.

A relative found his body about 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

Police also confirmed that Kleese’s 2005 Subaru Outback had been stolen from the house and that it was “later recovered,” but a crime supervisor at the Montoursville barracks declined Friday to say where.

The supervisor said “there was no reason to believe that the public was in danger,” but he evaded questions when asked if a suspect was in custody or being detained.

“We will confirm the custody issue at a later date,” he said.

“We have no other information to put out,” he added.

Kiessling ruled the death a homicide after an autopsy was completed Friday on the victim’s body. He too declined to answer any specific questions about the case.

“No further information will be released at this time as the investigation continues. Additional information will be released at a later time when it is appropriate to do so,” Kiessling said in a prepared statement.

Pastor Joel Henderson of Trinity Gospel Church on Elmira Street in the city described Kleese as a “defender of the Bible.”

Kleese attended Trinity Gospel, and Henderson officiated at the memorial service for his wife, Beverly, in February 2013.

“He was a faithful man, really driven to know the truth in the context of the Bible,” Henderson said.

A former member of the church’s choir, Kleese “played special music on the piano for different occasions at the church,” Henderson said, adding that the elderly man had a love for music.

Shocked by the man’s death, Henderson said he will remember Kleese “as a gentle and compassionate” person.