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Jury finds Joseph Belstadt guilty in Mandy Steingasser murder

Joseph Belstadt was found guilty in the death of Mandy Steingasser.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — A  Niagara County Court jury has convicted a man for killing a 17-year-old high school acquaintance of his more than 28 years ago.

Joseph Belstadt was found guilty of murder in connection with the death of Mandy Steingasser, whose body was found strangled in Bond Lake Park several weeks after she was last seen getting into Belstadt’s car in North Tonawanda in 1993. 

Police had long considered Belstadt, now 46, the prime suspect in the killing, but it wasn’t until April of 2018, some 25 years after Steingasser’s death, that he was charged after a review of DNA evidence using more sophisticated means than existed back in 1993.

Since his arrest more than three-and-a-half years ago, Belstadt, who has maintained his innocence, had been free on $250,000 bail.

However, following the verdict, the judge revoked Belstadts’ bail and remanded him into the custody of the Niagara County Sheriff's Office to await sentencing on January 10, 2022. Belstadt faces up to 25-years to life in prison.

Justice for Mandy 

A former detective that worked the case couldn't believe that the guilty verdict finally came in after all these years. 

"Oh God! My emotions ran wild. I couldn’t believe it, after 28 years... I couldn’t believe it," said Det. Gabe DiBernardo, 85,who has since retired from the North Tonawanda Police Department. "I had to talk to one of my detectives, and I said 'did you hear what I heard?' He says, 'he’s guilty after 28 years'."

Belstadt and Steingasser knew each other as students at North Tonawanda High. Mandy went missing after a night out with friends attending house parties, which were described in court as alcohol-fueled. 

Prosecutors say she was seen by two witnesses getting into Belstadt’s car, a Black 1984 Pontiac 6000.

Long and Complicated Case

The jury deliberated for roughly 10 hours over the course of two days, in a trial which stretched over more three weeks and featured 45 witnesses.

The credibility and recollection of those witnesses was challenged throughout  the trial by Belstadt's lawyer, Michelle G. Bergevin.

Prosecutors say there were multiple pieces of evidence that put the case together for them. 

"In a case like this, there were so many pieces of evidence, and you can’t just point to one piece of evidence and say this piece of evidence is what made the case. There were many many pieces of evidence, and the  jury had the difficult task of putting it together, and they did," said Brian Seaman, Niagara County District Attorney.