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Searching for answers in a 20-year-old unsolved hit-and-run case | The Unsolved

A teacher's homicide is still unsolved, yet she still teaches 20 years after her death.

MT CARMEL, Pa. — It will be 20 years this October since a hit and run in Northumberland County killed a retired teacher who was beloved across the coal region.

Her story is still often told there.

The death of Jean Louise Stellfox is the only open homicide case in Mount Carmel.

"That would be the only one that I'm aware of in my career of 28 years," said the borough's police chief Chris Buhay.

But Buhay will tell you it's not for lack of trying.

"From 2003 to 2005, there was an astronomical amount of tips. Then a few years later, 2010-2011-ish, it was rehashed. Also, in 2013, the whole case was gone over again," he added.

The deadly hit and run happened less than a block from where the police department is today on October 26, 2003.

Stellfox was out for a walk in Mount Carmel around dusk. She wasn't far from home.

Witnesses and a nearby ATM camera caught a dark-colored SUV speeding through the intersection. It struck Jean Stellfox, who was so badly injured. She was flown to a hospital and died hours later.

The driver never stopped. And every attempt to find them has led to a dead end.

"It's not like we have that lingering person that's out there that we know, and we just can't arrest. There's nothing there; there's no one to arrest at this point," Buhay said.

Jean Stellfox's life story has a lot more information than the story of her death.

Dan Schwalm has taken it upon himself to tell Jean's story. His late wife, Noreen, was Jean's former student-turned-best friend.

"Noreen had Jean when she was a junior in high school, and she was the reason Noreen went on to become an English teacher," Schwalm said.

The couple and fellow retired teacher Gene Boughner make sure the community at Shamokin Area High School, where she taught, never forgets her.

"She was the type of person; you did not goof off in class. It didn't matter which class was there," Boughner said.

The two taught together for decades.

Boughner and Schwalm said Stellfox was just as stern in her final wishes. In her will, she demanded that the more than $1.5 million she saved over her lifetime go to her alma mater, Dickinson College, to establish a lecture series meant to inspire young writers.

"Noreen would always say she continues to teach us, even in death," Schwalm said.

The men knew Jean's money and her mission would far outlive her and probably them, too. But they never thought her homicide would still be unsolved.

"It just can't go unsolved. She was too good of a person, but no matter who a person would be, it's too long to go unsolved, and she deserved a lot better," Boughner added.

They hope one day, that chapter of her story will be closed.

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