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Arrest made in homicide of Lancaster County woman

Lois Gift, 62, was found strangled to death in her home on Monday. Her son, Zachary, was arrested and charged with her murder on Wednesday, March 22.
Credit: Ephrata Police Department

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Ephrata police have announced an arrest in the homicide of a Lancaster County woman. 

On Monday, March 20, police received a request to check on the welfare of Lois Gift, 62, from Grant Road in Adamstown Borough. Friends and family were concerned about her absence at regularly scheduled events.

Police entered the house and found Gift's body with no obvious cause of death. 

On Tuesday, March 21, Dr. Wayne Ross, a forensic pathologist at the Lancaster County Coroner's Office determined that Gift's manner of death was a homicide with her cause of death strangulation. 

An investigation revealed that on March 20 at 12:30 a.m., Pennsylvania State Police investigated a vehicle crash in Millcreek Township, Lebanon County involving Gift's car. 

The driver was Zachary T. Gift, 26, who lived in the same house with his mother, Lois. He was transported to Tower Health-Reading Hospital for treatment. 

On the morning of Wednesday, March 22, Zachary admitted to police that he had a physical altercation with his mom on Sunday, March 19 at 11 p.m., as he attempted to steal her purse and car keys. 

The altercation occurred in Lois' bedroom. Zachary allegedly smothered and strangled his mother to death. He then fled the home with her purse, phone, wallet and car keys in her black Ford Escape. 

Zachary was in the hospital until his arrest on Wednesday. He has been charged with criminal homicide, strangulation, theft by unlawful taking and robbery. 

He has been arraigned and committed to Lancaster County Prison. 

Ephrata Police Chief Christopher J. McKim stated, “First and foremost, I acknowledge the tragedy of this family’s loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. I must also express how proud I am of the work done by the officers and detectives of the Ephrata Police Department, from initial response, to collection of evidence and up to the arrest; Adamstown and the greater community are safer for their efforts.”

Anyone with additional information has been asked to contact Detective Rivera at 717-738-9200 x241 or submit an anonymous tip through CRIMEWATCH

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