Reading, PA

Neighbor Charged After 22 Years in 2001 Pennsylvania Cold Case Murder

E. R. Kent

Timothy Bernard, 62, has been charged in the 2001 murder of Cynthia Baver, a case that remained unsolved for over two decades

In a profound turn of events that could finally bring an end to a long-standing mystery, 62-year-old Timothy Bernard has been charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, burglary, and aggravated assault in the cold case murder of his former neighbor, Cynthia Baver. 

Berks County District Attorney John Adams made the announcement, asserting that justice might finally be within reach for Cynthia Baver, who lost her life tragically in 2001. "Hopefully," Adams stated earnestly, "we can bring some closure to this family." But how did we get here, and what led to this significant breakthrough?

Rewind to the evening of April 8, 2001. Police responded to a call from the 1100 block of North 10th Street in Reading, Pennsylvania. The scene was chilling: Baver was found unconscious, her body marred by wounds. She was declared dead at the scene - a tragic end to a life cut short.

The crime scene painted a grim picture. Baver's lifeless body lay on the living room floor, her torso bearing stab wounds, a black cord around her neck, and injuries to her head, all concealed under a bloodstained shirt. Nearby, her purse and its contents were strewn about, perhaps in a hasty search for valuables.

The investigation that followed was meticulous. Human bloodstains were discovered throughout Baver's home, even in the breezeway between her row home and the adjacent property. An autopsy later confirmed that Baver had suffered fractures to her forehead and the back of her skull, ligature marks on her neck, and stab wounds to her chest. Her death was ruled a homicide.

For over two decades, this case remained unsolved. A haunting question mark in the annals of Reading's history. That is, until 2021 when a spark of hope was reignited. Baver's father reached out to Reading Police Officer Daniel Cedeno, leading to a reopening of the case.

With advancements in technology, investigators were able to submit a bloodstain sample from the crime scene for forensic genealogy testing in May 2022. After months of analysis and collaboration with BODE Technology, the DNA evidence matched the profile of Timothy Bernard.

Bernard, who was Baver's next-door neighbor at the time of the murder, admitted during an interview with Officer Cedeno that he had met Baver on several occasions to buy drugs. This admission, coupled with the fact that his DNA sample matched the profile obtained from the bloodstains found at the crime scene, led to Bernard's arrest.

As of now, Bernard is being held without bail at the Berks County Jail and awaits his preliminary hearing on December 15. 

District Attorney Adams expressed his gratitude to the Reading Police Department for their dedication and commitment to solving this horrific homicide. This breakthrough showcases the power of new technology in breathing new life into old cases.

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