Cold Case of 81-Year-Old Woman Bludgeoned to Death Solved, 4 Years After Sole Suspect Killed Himself: Cops
The sole suspect, Jeremiah James Guyette, then 43, took his own life shortly after authorities began interviewing him in 2019.
The cold case murder of an elderly New York woman 28 years ago has been solved, nearly four years after the sole suspect in the investigation took his own life. Jeremiah James Guyette, then 43, was found dead by suicide the day after authorities began interviews in 2019.
Even though Guyette had “quickly requested an attorney” during their initial interview the day before, authorities have now determined that every lead “brought us to Jeremiah Guyette,” Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly said in a press release.
Authorities had been initially led to Guyette by way of a tip from a close acquaintance. Fingerprints and DNA obtained from Guyette’s body after an autopsy was then compared with evidence at the scene, leading authorities to determine that he had been the perpetrator of Wilomeana “Violet” Filkins’ murder in 1994.
“Each and every lead counts when investigating crime,” Donnelly said, “no matter how small the detail, it could be useful in an investigation.”
Filkins, 81 at the time, was found dead in the living room of her apartment with several blows to the back of her head on Aug. 19, 1994, authorities said. State troopers believe she was bludgeoned to death at some point in the afternoon two days prior, according to the Troy Record.
Authorities believed she may have been a victim of a robbery at the time of her death, and this belief was further strengthened when Filkins’ belongings from her apartment turned up more than three years later, on a quiet road behind a cemetery, the Troy Record reported.
Prior to her death, Filkins, a lifelong resident of Rensselaer, worked for the state Education Department until her 1968 retirement, the Troy Record reported. She was one of 10 siblings, never married, and had been living alone after her sister’s death, the outlet reported.
There had been ongoing calls for information about her murder, including in 2016 when her family offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, the Troy Record reported.
Ultimately, an “unknown fingerprint” from Filkins’ coffee table that was resubmitted in 2021 in light of new DNA analysis technology was what led to the closing of her case.
“Over the course of my career every time there was a changeover in our Detective bureau there was a promise made from one detective to another to never stop investigating this case in order to find justice for Violet and her family,” East Greenbush Police Chief Elaine Rudzinski said, according to the statement.
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