NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — Mandy Steingasser’s mother took the stand Tuesday during the second day of her daughter’s murder trial.
Mandy disappeared September 19, 1993. She was found dead October 25, 1993 in Bond Lake Park in Lewiston.
Joseph Belstadt was charged with her murder in 2018.
Loraine Steingasser was emotional as she recounted the last moments she saw her daughter alive.
Loraine said she told Mandy to be home at midnight on the evening of September 18, 1993, the night she never came home.
Loraine said Mandy always called if she’d be home late. Loraine testified she received two calls in the early morning hours of September 19, 1993, neither from her daughter. First a hang-up and then one from a man with one of Mandy’s friend’s voices in the background asking if Mandy was home.
Defense attorneys said in opening statements, and continue to say, Mandy’s boyfriend at the time, Chris Palesh, should be looked at as a suspect.
Prosecutors argue Palesh left town the day before Mandy’s disappearance and therefore rule him out as a suspect.
Loraine testified she heard Mandy tell friends on the phone Palesh was leaving town that Friday, September 17. She also said Mandy hung out with Palesh that day but wasn’t sure what time.
Loraine also said Mandy was out all night with Palesh a week or so before she disappeared, partially the reason she gave her daughter a midnight curfew on September 18.
After day two of the trial, it’s becoming clear the direction each attorney is heading.
Attorneys continue to bring back themes reflected in their opening statements.
One of Belstadt’s attorneys, Michelle Bergevin, is hoping the jury considers someone other than their client killed Mandy.
“They didn’t do any investigation on Chris Palesh,” she said Monday in her opening statement. “Back in the 90’s they spoke to him and said, ‘oh he was out of town, I guess he’s not an issue.'”
Assistant district attorney John Granchelli is trying to show the killer couldn’t have been anyone but Belstadt.
“There is no other person responsible, there is no other reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the facts. Mandy Steingasser was on a tragic collision course with this defendant,” he said Monday.
Court resumes Thursday at 9:15 a.m. in Niagara Falls.
Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.