Possible lead in LI woman’s ’74 killing- Katherine Kolodziej

From Newsday

By SOPHIA CHANG AND GARY DYMSKI

AP Photo

 

 

William John of the state troopers appealed to anyone who had known Kolodziej from Connetquot High School to contact the New York State Police.

She was found stabbed to death 36 years ago, her body carefully arranged atop a stone wall in a field near upstate Cobleskill.

Now, with the recent disclosure that a nearby decades-old killing had been solved, the unsolved murder of Ronkonkoma teenager Katherine Kolodziej is getting fresh attention.

Last week, law enforcement officials said serial killer John William Hopkins was responsible for the 1972 murder of another young woman in East Utica.

While Hopkins had been previously named a suspect in Kolodziej’s murder, police are again exploring the possibility that he killed her.

“He was always looked at. We’re going to look at him again,” said state trooper Tom Cioffi.

Kolodziej’s parents died several years ago, but closure on the case would bring relief to her uncle Charles Szydlowski, 80, of West Islip. “If they can be sure, I certainly would like to know,” said Szydlowski, whose sister Hedwig Kolodziej spent her life mourning her daughter. “And in my prayers, I will tell my sister what happened.”When she disappeared walking home on Nov. 2, 1974, Kolodziej was 17 years old and a freshman at State University of New York in Cobleskill, where she was studying animal husbandry.

Her partially clothed body was found on Thanksgiving Day – she had been stabbed seven times, then laid upon a stone wall and covered with a red coat.

Sixty miles away in East Utica, Joanne Pecheone, 19, was found raped and stabbed to death in 1972. Her case remained open until last week, when the Oneida County district attorney announced that Hopkins was the last remaining suspect, based on DNA and witness evidence.

At the time of his arrest in 1979 for the rape of a 15-year-old girl, Hopkins had confessed to killing three women but named only two: Cecilia Genatiempo, 17, killed in 1976 and Sherrie Lynn Carville, 17, in 1978. Police now believe that Pecheone was the third.

Hopkins killed himself in 2000 while serving a prison sentence in an upstate jail.

 

Suspected link in cases

Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond, who had been a state police trooper when Kolodziej was killed and worked on the case, believes there is a link between Hopkins and Kolodziej as well.

“Three of the victims were the same age as Kathy,” he said Friday. “And if you look at the pictures of some of these victims – the hairstyle, parted in the center, long, combed down – it’s similar. And they were all college students.”

But senior investigator William John of the state troopers said evidence leading to Hopkins was still scant.

“We’re not sure it was Hopkins. We’re looking at means and opportunities,” John said, noting that Hopkins raped his victims and there was no evidence that Kolodziej had been sexually assaulted.

He added that other men who were her college classmates are now being sought for interviews.

John appealed to anyone who had known Kolodziej from Connetquot High School to contact the state police. In particular, he said he wants to hear from “anyone that knew her back in high school or received any correspondence from her that would have a guy’s name in it.”

On the night she went missing, Kolodziej was dancing with some friends at The Vault, a popular hangout in Cobleskill at the time, Szydlowski said.

Kolodziej’s roommate told her that the group they were with was leaving, “but Kathy said to go ahead and that she was going to stay,” Szydlowski said Friday.

The morning after Kolodziej went missing, Szydlowski’s sister called him on the telephone. “She said, ‘Charlie, Kathy is laying on side of the road somewhere dead, I know it.’ ” He tried to tell his sister that her only child would turn up safe.

“I said, ‘Heddy, there are 13 million people in New York State. What are the chances this is going to affect us this way?’

“But she was right. Her first thought was her daughter was dead, and she was right.”

With John Valenti and Yamiche Alcindor

 

4 thoughts on “Possible lead in LI woman’s ’74 killing- Katherine Kolodziej

  1. I am the younger sister of Sherrie Anne Carville (incorrectly printed as Lynn in the above article). She was abducted, tortured, raped, and brutally murdered by John Hopkins. He left her in the woods on his parent’s property where she was found over seven months later. I have vivid recollections of that time in my life. I was 12 when Sherrie went missing. There were police and reporters continually flowing in and out of our home. After Sherrie was found and Hopkins was arrested one reporter had the audacity to hold a microphone to my Mother and ask if we thought it was an appropriate use of the tax payer’s money to provide a prosecutor for my sister Sherrie’s case. My parents had to fight for representation and push to investigater my sister Sherrie’s case as well as for Cecilia Genatiempo. Through research on their own accord, my parents brought the similarities up to the police and reporters on numerous occasions regarding the case of Joanne Pecheone , Kathy Kolodziej and many others that occurred as far away as Colorado while John Hopkins was stationed there. Unfortunately it took over thirty years for someone ELSE to look into the connection between the cases. While visiting family in Utica, NY a few years ago my parents mentioned the possible connection to the Pecheone case to my cousin who was and is currently an Assistant DA in Utica. Only through his actions was the case reopened and investigated. My heart goes out to the Pecheone family, that of Kathy Kolodziej , those in Colorado and I’m sure many others. If my parents could connect the cases over 30 years ago why couldn’t the police? Why has nothing been done to bring some form of closure to the families left behind?

    • Thank you for sharing this information, Susan. I often wonder if Kathy’s murder will ever be solved, but it is truly amazing how DNA and forensics have helped solve many cold cases. My deepest sympathy goes to you and your family at the loss of your sister Sherrie.

  2. What in hell was wrong with the investigators? How could they not make the connection? I can only thank you for taking the time to explain what went so horribly wrong in NY and allowed a monster to continue killing for years. It frightening to think detectives couldn’t put the same age, body type, hair type together as a series of killings. It’s like a big old sign was blinking right at them. I am so sorry for your loss, but very afraid that the police involved in these cases are more the norm, rather than the exception and the reason killers are out there longer murdering women with what seems like now as almost impunity. Shame on them for not doing more to close these cases, even if the coward killed himself, the families deserve to know the truth. Very sad story.

  3. We can only hope and prey that the investigators will solve this horrible crime and the others still left unsolved. I still have hope as I continue to hear about cases 30+ year old cases getting solved. It is a very sad, sad story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s