Suspect noted killing in date book

May 3, 2008 at 12:55 AM
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DOYLESTOWN, Pa., May 3 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania woman charged with killing a volunteer church secretary recorded the event in her date book, a state trooper testified Friday.

The book was found in Mary Jane Fonder's handbag when she was arrested. The trooper, a witness at a preliminary hearing, said Fonder wrote and "Rhonda murdered hairdresser" under Jan. 23, the day Rhonda Smith's body was discovered in an office at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Springfield, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Fonder, 65, of Kintnersville was ordered held for trial on a charge of first-degree murder. At the hearing, she denied shooting Smith.

Prosecutors say Fonder was jealous of Smith. Smith, 42, who had a history of mental illness, was getting counseling from the pastor.

The church is located in Bucks County, in an area where the Philadelphia suburbs give way to farmland.

Fonder's lawyer, Michael Applebaum, said the date book entry has little meaning, even though the death was not classified as homicide for several weeks and was considered a possible suicide.

"It's clear that people at the church thought Rhonda Smith had been murdered," he said. "That was the scuttlebutt."

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