Upstate Cops Revisit LI Teen Katherine Kolodziej’s 1974 Murder-

From Newsday

crimestoppersFox23news

By JOSEPH MALLIA         joseph.mallia@newsday.com

Nearly four decades after a Ronkonkoma teenager was found stabbed to death near her upstate university campus, police are once again seeking the public’s help in solving the case.

Police have put Katherine Kolodziej’s picture on a billboard facing a busy two-lane highway, not far from where her half-clothed body was found in 1974.

“If the person who did this is still alive, I want him to know we haven’t forgotten what he did,” Schoharie County Sheriff Anthony Desmond said last week.

“It’s been 38 years, but we’re putting it out there again, continually hoping a lucky break will come our way,” he said.

A Connetquot High School graduate, Kolodziej disappeared on Nov. 2, 1974, after dancing with friends at The Vault, a Cobleskill Village bar. Her body was found weeks later, on Thanksgiving. She had been stabbed seven times, laid on a stone wall in a wooded area and covered with a red coat.

Over the years, police have questioned potential local suspects and investigated possible links to serial killers, including Ted Bundy, but got nowhere.

Now state troopers say they are taking a different approach: They aim to identify and interview every person who was in the bar that Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Kolodziej’s parents died several years ago, but her uncle, Charles Szydlowski of West Islip, said last year that he hasn’t lost hope that the killer can be caught — and the story behind the slaying revealed at last.

“If they can be sure, I certainly would like to know,” said Szydlowski, whose sister Hedwig Kolodziej spent the rest of her life mourning her daughter. “And in my prayers, I will tell my sister what happened.”

Szydlowski couldn’t be reached for comment on the latest developments.

The billboard near Cobleskill is an appeal for help: “1974 Unsolved Homicide. Katherine Kolodziej. 17 yr. Old SUNY Cobleskill student. Last seen leaving bar alone. Body found in field . . . Cash Reward up to $2,500. Anyone with information Please Call.”

Though investigators through the years have interviewed hundreds of people — including the entire student body at SUNY Cobleskill — they still hope to find new leads, Desmond said.

“There’s always somebody we might have missed, or someone who was reluctant to talk,” he said.

The billboard space was donated by a businessman whose father was the Schoharie district attorney in 1974. The sign is on Route 7 west of Exit 22 of Interstate 88, about six miles from campus. The reward is offered by CrimeStoppers.

State Police are leading the investigation, with the aid of the FBI, the Cobleskill and SUNY police, and the sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices.

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Sherrie Anne Carville

Sometimes, in the course of writing/posting to this blog I get the privilege of corresponding to the family and friends of  people I write about.  Many people have responded to my posts regarding the unsolved murder of college student Kathy Kolodzej. I lived in the same town, and was an acquaintance of Kathy’s, and her untimely death haunts me.  My good friend Ramona was a close friend of hers. 

Sherrie Anne Carville’s sister Susan, and I started a correspondence regarding my posts about Kathy.  She was kind enough to share some memories about Sherrie, which I’ll post further on.  Sometimes the focus is about how someone died and we forget the joy of simply having the person, however briefly, in our lives. Sherrie was a lovely young woman, much-loved by her family.  She did not deserve to die.   

 

From her sister Susan, “I am the younger sister of Sherrie Anne Carville. 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 taxpayer’s money to provide a prosecutor for my sister Sherrie’s case.”

Susan says, “My parents had to fight for representation and push to (have an) investigation into 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.”

She adds, “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.”

Those who have experienced the tragic murder of a loved one are particularly affected and have a fine-tuned empathy for others who have experienced similar tragedy. As Susan states, “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?”

When I replied to Susan’s comments on my Kathy post I asked her if she had any pictures of Sherrie or additional information she could share? She thanked me and sent two pictures of her sister, stating, “Thank you for your reply and post. I have attached two photos of Sherrie. As far as further information I am not sure what you are looking for. My parents would be much more helpful but my Mother is in poor health and I’m not sure I want to place any undue stress on her.” I more than understand. My grandmother was murdered many years ago, when my mother was fourteen years old, and she will be seventy-six this year.  She speaks very little of that time in her life and any information my siblings and I was obtained was from relatives and an old newspaper article from the Brooklyn Eagle.   

“We speak of Sherrie often and even include her in regular family celebrations. A candle is lit every Christmas Eve in her memory and we all, including the family she never met, huddle in a big group hug wishing her a Merry Christmas. It always ends with twenty-two “I love you Sherrie” and lots of tears. John Hopkins nor time has erased the impact dear Sherrie had on us, our fond memories and our never-ending love for her.” 

Susan comments on something that was hopefully considered by the investigators in Kathy’s case, “As John Hopkins was in the area at the time of Kathy Kolodziej’s disappearance, he was also in Colorado at the time of many murders referred to as the “Dunkin Donut Murders”. Coincidently, Cecilia Genatiempo was picked up at or near a Dunkin Donuts in Gloversville, NY. I recall my parents discussing this with local investigators at the time.”

Susan ends by saying, “After John Hopkins arrest and imprisonment his ability to torture our family did not stop. He befriended a woman who harassed my parents via telephone. She claimed to be his girlfriend and said he asked her to call them in regards to his final appeal. After he realized the appeals were over he committed suicide, or so we were told.” 

In my research I found that he did commit suicide.  In my thoughts I hope he is burning in Hell.