Church musician shot, killed during worship

Ex-husband charged in death of Coudersport, Pa. Organist/choir director

December 4, 2012


Darlene Sitler, choir director and organist at First United Presbyterian Church here, was shot and killed Sunday 20 minutes into morning worship at the 71-member church in Northumberland Presbytery.

Gregory Eldred, Sitler’s ex-husband and an elementary school music teacher, was arrested and charged with the murder.

According to the Associated Press, Pastor Evon Lloyd told police that Eldred entered the church wearing a hooded, beige jacket and "leveled a gun at the victim and shot." Other witnesses reportedly told police that Eldred re-entered the church five minutes later and, saying “I want to finish this,” shot Sitler twice more before he was subdued by worship attenders.

No one else was injured.

In addition to her church duties, Sitler taught music at the Northern Potter Children's School for 30 years. The elementary school is in a district that neighbors the Coudersport Area School District where her ex-husband taught since 1986.

She taught music to all students in the Pre-K through sixth-grade school and also headed the chorus and band for fifth- and sixth-graders. Crisis counselors from surrounding districts and a member of the local pastors' ministerium were at the North Potter district Monday.

Police said Sitler and Eldred had been divorced since August of 2010 and that it didn’t appear the couple's divorce was related to the shooting.

  1. I served a church where the organist was shot by her husband, although not in the sanctuary. Prayers for the congregation, staff and family in the coming weeks as the grapple with the violence done in their midst. May they feel God's healing presence in the coming weeks.

    by Renee

    December 6, 2012

  2. I grew up in the Coudersport church, was baptized, confirmed, and married there. My parents are still members although they are now homebound. It is my fervent prayer that this horrific event will not deter these faithful folk or new attendees from attending in the future, even though memories of fear and disbelief flood them. May God protect, guide, and keep this church now as God did on that fateful day. It surely was God's grace that no others were harmed though the gun was fired again. I invite others to join me in pray for Pastor Evon and the Coudersport Presbyterian Church. May blessings and grace abound. Rev. Barbara E. Mosch Milesburg Presbyterian Church Milesburg, PA

    by Rev. Barbara E. Mosch

    December 6, 2012