For three years, authorities suspected Michael Horvath in the disappearance of his colleague, Holly Grim.
The two worked in the same department at Allen Organ, a church organ manufacturer in Lehigh Valley, Pa. On the morning Grim went missing in November 2013, Horvath was late for work. At the time, he told police that he had driven home to fix a flat tire. Investigators found that strange.
Over the following years, authorities would interview hundreds of people, trying to figure out Grim’s mysterious disappearance. Each conversation, they said, drew them closer to Horvath.
Now, authorities say they’ve connected all the dots.
Police spent several days in late September and early October excavating Horvath’s yard and searching inside his house in Ross Township, Pa.
Behind the house, buried under 18 inches of dirt, they uncovered multiple bones, the Morning Call reported. Lab tests showed they were Grim’s.
Nearly as chilling was what police found inside the house: shackles, stun weapons, and numerous tapes and DVDs about “murder, sexual deviance, and ‘hunting humans,’” according to an affidavit posted by the Morning Call. The search also turned up a planner with notes indicating Horvath was stalking someone, the affidavit says.
The evidence was more than enough for prosecutors, who charged Horvath on Thursday with homicide, abuse of a corpse, evidence tampering and kidnapping.
“There wasn’t one ‘ah-ha’ moment,” Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Joseph Sokolofski said in a news conference.
“We investigate everyone and one by one they were out,” he said. “They had an alibi, and it kept coming back to Mr. Horvath.”
Attorney information for Horvath was not available Thursday and he did not appear to have entered a plea. He is being held without bail in Monroe County, Pa., LehighValleyLive reported.
If Horvath is convicted, authorities will have cracked one of the region’s most closely watched missing person cases in recent years. Friends and family have kept the pressure on investigators to find Grim or her killer, holding vigils over the years to raise awareness.
The last time anyone saw Grim was the morning of Nov. 22, 2013, when the 41-year-old had dropped her son off at the bus stop, according to LehighValleyLive. Grim’s mother first reported her missing after she was unable to reach her on her cellphone or at work.
“It’s as if she just completely vanished,” Grim’s friend, Erica Seither, told the Reading Eagle a year after Grim disappeared. “And we know — everyone who knows Holly knows — that this doesn’t make sense.”
When police searched the trailer where Grim lived, they found her car in the driveway and evidence of a struggle: an unlocked door, an overturned ashtray and a spilled coffee mug. They also found a bloodstain on the trailer.
Investigators interviewed Horvath three times in as many years, the first time just a couple of weeks after Grim went missing. Police noted that he was late for work that morning but did not interview him again until the following summer, according to the Morning Call. On that occasion, he let police take a DNA sample. It matched the bloodstain on Grim’s trailer, they said.
The final interview came in April 2016, when he told police about a woman he called the morning Grim went missing. The woman had told investigators earlier that she had met him on an adult dating website, but stopped seeing him because she found some of his remarks “disturbing,” the Morning Call reported.
It took five more months, but in September, police got a warrant to search Horvath’s house and yard. The affidavit says they uncovered a collection of violent and pornographic videos, magazines and sex toys in a fanny pack “or similar bag suggestive of portability.” They also found shackles and other devices used for restraint, along with several Tasers and stun guns.
Lab tests of two pieces of rib bone concluded they were Grim’s, according to the affidavit. A coroner ruled that Grim died by “homicidal violence,” but authorities did not disclose exactly how or when she died.
Grim’s mother, Jeanette Grim, did not speak publicly Thursday. In an interview with the Reading Eagle in October 2014, she said the two of them lived in the same mobile home park and rode to work together every day until Jeanette Grim retired. She said her daughter was a fan of race cars, spending her free time at a racetrack with her boyfriend.
“It’s always hard to lose a child but this,” she said. “If you could make sense of it, I guess it would help.”