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Suspect in 1989 disappearance of Tracy Kroh faces new charges weeks after being declared incompetent to stand trial

Mark Warfel, 89, is accused of assaulting staff at UPMC Harrisburg, where he has been admitted following his release from prison after a May 27 competency hearing.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Editor's note: The above video is from July 2019.

An elderly Jackson Township man named as a suspect in the disappearance of Tracy Kroh has been charged with assaulting his nurses at UMPC Harrisburg, weeks after being declared incompetent to stand trial for other charges.

Mark Warfel, 89, was named as a suspect in Kroh's 33-year-old disappearance in May, during a hearing to determine whether he was competent to stand trial for charges of burglary and harassment charges.

A Dauphin County judge determined Warfel was not mentally competent to be tried on those charges, which stemmed from a 2019 incident. As a result, Warfel was released from prison and admitted to UPMC Harrisburg, because he had nowhere else to go.

Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo told Pennlive that the new charges against Warfel were filed because he could not ignore reports of new offenses allegedly committed by Warfel following his competency hearing.

The new charges also contain new facts that Chardo believes show Warfel is competent, according to Pennlive.

Those charges, filed in late June and early July, describe how Warfel allegedly assaulted staff at the downtown Harrisburg hospital. Among other things, Warfel is accused of hitting a technician in the legs with a walker, repeatedly grabbing a nurse's buttocks, attempting to grab another nurse's breast, punching two technicians on separate occasions, and making sexual and threatening comments. 

On some occasions, according to court records, Warfel told employees he was "just joking" when confronted about his behavior.

As a result of the new charges, Warfel is back in prison. But it's unclear whether the May 27 ruling on his competence to stand trial by Judge Scott Evans means Warfel will continue to go through the criminal justice system on any new charges filed against him.

Warfel has not been charged in connection to Kroh's 1989 disappearance, but police have conducted at least two searches of his former Jackson Township property on Mountain Road since 2019.

The property is about 10 miles away from where Kroh, of Halifax, was last seen on the night of August 5, 1989. 

When FOX43 spoke with Warfel in July 2019, he said he wasn’t concerned about the police search.

“I said 'what are you digging for,' and they said they thought maybe the remains of Tracy Kroh might be there," Warfel said at the time. "And I said, 'well you can dig all that you want but you aren’t going to find anything.'"

Shortly after that interview, Warfel was charged with burglary and harassment after he allegedly broke into the home of a woman and harassed her. The woman had spoken to police the same day investigators searched Warfel's property.

On the night she disappeared, Kroh was supposed to visit her sister and brother-in-law at the Alex Acres Trailer Park, off Route 147. When she discovered her sister and brother-in-law weren't home, Kroh dropped off items on their front steps and never arrived back at her family's home in Millersburg. 

Dauphin County officials said in 2014 that before Kroh disappeared, she was seen using a public telephone off of Millersburg Square. Her vehicle, a blue-striped white 1971 Mercury Comet, was located at the town square the following evening, August 6. 

Officials added that her belongings weren't inside and there was no trace of Kroh.

In December 1993, parts of Kroh's wallet—including her driver's license and National Honor Society card—were found in an area along Wiconisco Creek, off Rakers Mill Rd., in Washington Township, approximately nine miles from Millersburg.

In 2018, Dauphin County woman Holly Mallett, came forward to police, telling them Matthew Webster, also of Dauphin County, admitted to her he was involved in the rape and murder of Kroh.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Webster told Mallet, "It was supposed to be just a rape and done but then it turned out to be a lot more than that."

Police then intercepted a call between Webster and Mallett in which Webster told Mallett what to say to a grand jury. 

Both were subsequently charged with perjury. 

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