80-Year-Old Man Arrested in Cold Case Killings of 2 Teenagers on Vacation

Ernest Broadnax was arrested in the murders of Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola, who were found dead in a cottage near the ocean.

An 80-year-old New York man has been arrested in the 1973 murders of two teenagers who were killed while vacationing in Virginia.

Ernest Broadnax, who lives in Queens, was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the killings of two 19-year-old women, Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola, and one count of rape, the Virginia Beach Police Department said Tuesday.

The two friends were found dead in the Virginia Beach cottage where they were staying on June 30, 1973. The women, who were planning to return home to Pittsburgh on the day they were found, were discovered after they failed to check out on time.

Pietropola had been raped, strangled and shot three times, and Seethaler was shot twice and her throat had been cut with a broken wine bottle, The Associated Press reported.

But the case fell cold "after exhaustive measures failed to positively identify a suspect," Virginia Beach police said.

"We did everything we could," then-police Capt. William Haden told The AP in a 1998 interview. "We flew in the helicopter, we searched rooftops, we climbed into manholes."

Detectives continued to investigate tips but an apparent break in the case only came in the fall of 2018 when investigators received what they called a "strong lead."

Authorities did not say how Broadnax was identified as a suspect but a source told ABC News he was tracked through DNA at the scene. He is a Virginia native, The New York Times reported.

"I am just relieved," Haden told the Times. "It was an albatross around my neck all those years, and that albatross has now been removed."

This is not his first brush with the law. Since 1990, he has been arrested at least 10 times in New York City on charges including burglary, assault and weapons possession, police said, and he served at least 10 years in state prison for some of those crimes.

Broadnax will appear in Queens Criminal Court on April 22, and he is awaiting extradition to Virginia.