An arrest has been made in the nearly 36-year-old cold case murder of teen Wendy Jerome. She was just 14 years old when she was raped and murdered in Rochester, New York in 1984.
Timothy Williams, 56, a Rochester-native now living in Melbourne, Florida, has been charged with Wendy’s murder, thanks to evidence from familial DNA, police said. However, the statute of limitations for a rape charge has expired, prosecutors said.
He was 20 years old at the time of Wendy’s killing.
“I never thought I would see this day, and now it’s here,” Wendy’s mom, Marlene Jerome, said in a statement Friday. “I just wish my husband had been alive to see this. He passed away in 2011, and I know he’s up there with her, smiling and saying: ‘It’s over. It’s finally over.’”
Wendy was last seen on Thanksgiving in 1984. She had left the house that evening to deliver a birthday card to a friend who lived nearby, and was supposed to be home by curfew about an hour later, The New York Times reported.
Barely three hours later, her body was found behind a school just a quarter mile from her house. She had been raped and beaten to death.
No other details about Williams were released, except that he and Wendy lived hear each other at the time of her killing, but did not know each other. Williams has also not been linked to any other crimes.
The Rochester Police Department worked the case over the years, first attempting to use DNA to identify a potential suspect in 2000. The department again submitted evidence to be processed for DNA in 2016 and 2019.
Addressing Jerome at a press conference Friday, Captain Frank Umbrino of the Rochester Police Department said, “Marlene, I’m sorry it took so long, but we finally did it.”
Williams was arraigned Friday morning and is awaiting extradition to New York.