NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Joseph Belstadt is in custody after being convicted of killing Mandy Steingasser.
A Niagara County jury handed up the guilty verdict Tuesday after a three-week trial.
According to testimony, the night Steingasser disappeared started off as a fun night with friends.
Steingasser was out with her friend Stacie Blazynski and a couple ofothers when a fight broke out on the street.
Blazynski told the jury watching her friend walk way to get away from the chaos was the last time she saw her.
Steingasser was approaching Fifth Avenue at the same time Joseph Belstadt passed her in his car.
A woman who was using the payphone at the intersection on September 19, 1993 testified she saw Steingasser walking up the street towards her.
The woman said Belstadt did a U-turn at Sixth Avenue and pulled up in front of a mini mart at Fifth Avenue and Oliver Street.
The witness testified Steingasser walked over to the passenger side, the two talked for a few minutes, then Steingasser got in the car and it drove away.
Prosecutors told the jury that’s the last time she was seen alive.
Prosecutors said while there were no eyewitnesses to what happened next, the evidence tells the story.
They told the jury Steingasser’s pants were pulled halfway down, indicating at some point, Belstadt made sexual advances towards her.
They said when she turned him down, he got angry and hit her on the head.
An autopsy expert testified Steingasser sustained a head injury before she died.
Prosecutors said when Belstadt saw what he’d done, he ripped her bra off and strangled her with it.
More than a month after Steingasser went missing, two men hiking on a trail along Myers Lake in Bond Lake Park in Lewiston spotted her body dumped down a ravine.
A woman testified Belstadt took her to the same area of the park just a couple of months before.
A man who knew Belstadt back then testified he saw him that morning after 2 a.m. He testified he noticed Belstadt’s car was wet and Belstadt told him he just got it washed.
But the inside of the car is where police eventually found the evidence that led to his arrest.
Two pubic hairs consistent with Steingasser’s were found in the backseat.
A DNA expert testified the hairs had root tissue indicating they were removed using force.
Belstadt will be sentenced January 10 and could face life in prison.