Suspect Admits to Killing Mother in Lancaster County Home

Zachary T. GiftZachary T. Gift (Submitted Image)

ADAMSTOWN, PA — Ephrata Police Department has announced the arrest of 26-year-old Zachary T. Gift on homicide charges.

According to the criminal complaint, on the afternoon of Monday, March 20, 2023, the Ephrata Police Department received requests to check on the welfare of Lois Gift, 62, of Grant Road, Adamstown Borough.  Friends and family were concerned about her absence at regularly scheduled events.  Police entered the house and found Gift deceased with no obvious cause of death.  Police immediately started investigating the incident as a suspicious death.

On the afternoon of Tuesday, March 21, 2023, Dr. Wayne Ross, a forensic pathologist at the Lancaster County Coroner’s Office determined that Lois’ manner of death was a homicide, the cause of death was strangulation.

The police investigation revealed that on March 20, 2023, at 12:30 a.m., the Pennsylvania State Police investigated a vehicle crash in Millcreek Township, Lebanon County involving Lois Gift’s vehicle.  The driver of the vehicle was Zachary T. Gift, 26, who resides in the same household as his mother.  Gift was transported to Tower Health – Reading Hospital for treatment.

On the morning of Wednesday, March 22, 2023, Gift reportedly admitted to Ephrata Police Department detectives that he was engaged in a physical altercation with his mother, Lois Gift, on Sunday, March 19, 2023, at approximately 11:00 p.m., as he was attempting to steal her purse and car keys. The altercation occurred in Lois’ bedroom. Zachary then smothered and strangled Lois to death.  Zachary fled the residence with Lois’ purse, phone, wallet, and car keys, in her black Ford Escape.

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Gift was a patient at Tower Health–Reading Hospital from the time of the crash until his arrest on the morning of Wednesday, March 22, 2023.  The public was not in danger.

Ephrata Police have charged Zachary T. Gift with Criminal Homicide, Strangulation, Theft by Unlawful Taking and Robbery.  Gift was arraigned and committed to Lancaster County Prison.

Ephrata Police Chief Christopher J. McKim stated, “First and foremost, I acknowledge the tragedy of this family’s loss.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them.   I must also express how proud I am of the work done by the officers and detectives of the Ephrata Police Department, from the initial response to the collection of evidence and up to the arrest; Adamstown and the greater community are safer for their efforts.”

Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to contact Detective Rivera at 717-738-9200 x241 or click the submit a tip online here.

Information, a criminal complaint, or an arrest is not a declaration of guilt. A suspect, arrestee, or defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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