Police believe they know who murdered John Kilman


After 36 years, authorities in Delaware County have identified a main suspect in the shooting death of 19-year-old John Kilman of Norwood.

Michael Klein, 57, of Millsboro, Del., and formerly of the 1000 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Prospect Park, died July 4 of a heart attack in prison in Delaware before he could be charged in the Kilman case, Delaware County Criminal Investigation Chief James E. Nolan IV said last week.

Kilman was shot during a robbery early on April 18, 1986, at the Stop-N-Go at Chester Pike and Huron Avenue in Norwood where he worked as a clerk.

John’s Story: 1986 murder victim profiled through Delco DA’s office in Remember Me? series

Authorities believe the gunman entered the store shortly before 2:55 a.m. and ordered lunch meat.

As Kilman’s back was turned slicing the order, he was shot in the head, and again in the stomach after he collapsed on the floor.

Making off with $82.76 from the cash register, the alleged shooter remained elusive, until Klein confessed to the cold case, turning the investigative heat up in recent weeks.

Kilman’s parents, David James and Billie Kilman of Colorado, and several of John’s siblings, were notified about the development in a Zoom call Wednesday afternoon with CID Sgt. Lawrence Patterson and Cpl. Christopher Kennedy of the Norwood Police Department, the lead investigators in the case.

The family was informed that local investigators were notified on June 21 by authorities in Delaware that Klein had confessed to shooting Kilman, according to CID Lt. William Gordon.

Klein, who was already in custody in Delaware for an unknown offense, was charged on June 16 in the stabbing death of a 64-year-old Millsboro man, whose body was found June 7 on a golf course.

Remember Me? series introduction to John’s Story

While Klein denied involvement in the stabbing death, at some point, according to Patterson, he voluntarily confessed his role in Kilman’s death, even identifying Kilman by name, to a correctional officer at the Sussex Correctional Institution.

On June 30 in Delaware, during an interview with Patterson and Kennedy, Klein was described as “uncooperative,” though he made two admissions as the investigators attempted to validate his earlier confession.

Nolan said Klein provided information that only someone with intimate knowledge of the crime would know, but he died before investigators could pursue charges.

“From an investigation standpoint, and given the information we have, I am comfortable with us identifying him as the main suspect,” Nolan said, a sentiment echoed by Norwood Police Chief Mark DelVecchio.

“It is my opinion that it is a logical conclusion that he committed the robbery and murder,” Nolan said. “We have no evidence to the contrary.”

Patterson described Klein as having an extensive criminal history in Delaware County, having served time over the years for offenses including drugs and burglary.

Nolan stopped short of calling the case officially closed, but rather “cleared by exceptional means,” a status where an offender is not arrested and formally charged due to some element beyond law enforcement control.

By definition, a case is only considered closed by a conviction, he said.

“The case will remain open but inactive, unless any new information comes to light, and we encourage anyone to come forward,” Nolan said.

“We hope that this information gives the family a measure of comfort,” Margie McAboy, director of policy and public engagement for Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, stated in a news release.

Meanwhile, Billie Kilman said Thursday she has always prayed for John’s killer, and that she never expected that her son’s murder investigation would come as far as it has as the years began to pass.

But she is grateful for the new information.

“I always worried it would turn out to be someone we knew. I am so glad it wasn’t,” she said.

“I pray for him,” she said of Klein, specifically. “I feel sorry for him, and anyone who comes to such a desperate point in their lives.”

She was especially saddened to learn from authorities that at one point many years ago, Klein’s mother had a protection-from-abuse order against her own son.



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