NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Tuesday afternoon, Joseph Belstadt was convicted of killing 17-year-old Mandy Steingasser 28 years ago.
Steingasser was last seen alive getting into Belstadt’s car on September 19, 1993.
More than a month later, her body was found in Bond Lake Park.
Stein gasser’s loved ones cheered in the courtroom when they heard the jury read the verdict: guilty of murder in the second degree.
Belstadt’s family and friends were also in the courtroom, and have been there for the duration of the three-week trial.
Belstadt’s attorney, Michelle Bergevin, squeezed his hand in the moments after the verdict.
The jury had 28 years worth and 45 witness’ testimonies to consider in this case.
Two pubic hairs found in the backseat of Belstadt’s car were tested in 2017 and found to be consistent with Steingasser’s.
While that led to bringing the case to trial, prosecutor and Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman said it was a combination of all the evidence that led to this verdict. He said he gives the jury credit for looking at and putting all the evidence together to reach this verdict.
“For 28 years the murder of Mandy Steingasser has been like an open wound in the community of North Tonawanda and in Niagara County. She has never been forgotten not by her family, her friends, her loved ones, not by the North Tonawanda Police Department, not by the Niagara County Sheriffs Office and today, finally, 28 years later, her killer has been brought to justice,” Seaman said.
The verdict came after lawyers gave their closing arguments this past Friday.
Retired North Tonawanda detective Gabe DiBernardo worked on the case from 1993 through 1998. He was in the courtroom every day during the trial, waiting for this moment.
“The word relieved doesn’t really tell it all. It’s such a long, long struggle, 28 years for Lorraine, the mother, 28 years full of pain and tears I hope she can get some peace today,” DiBernardo said Tuesday.
DiBernardo said he was close with Steingasser’s mother and father, and said justice has been served for them.
“When the killer took Mandy’s life they took the Steingasser family’s life away because I would go see Richard I would see Lorraine and I made Richard the promise that I would never stop until we found the killer, and Richard we did.”
Belstadt faces life in prison when he’s sentenced in Niagara Falls on January 10. For now, he remains in custody.
More from the Mandy Steingasser case
- Timeline: What happened the night Mandy Steingasser disappeared
- Joseph Belstadt convicted of killing Mandy Steingasser in 1993
- Jury in Belstadt trial to begin deliberating Monday, attorneys give closing statements
- Legal analyst says defense faces ‘make or break’ decision of whether or not to put Belstadt on the stand
- Prosecution rests its case in Joseph Belstadt trial
- Testimony reveals Belstadt’s DNA wasn’t found on Steingasser’s clothes
- Jury hears testimony about pubic hairs tied to Steingasser found in Belstadt’s car
- Attendance records show Belstadt stopped going to school after Steingasser disappeared