In June 1973, Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola, both 19, were found dead in a Virginia Beach cottage.
Soon, their deaths were ruled homicides – but authorities didn’t make an arrest for nearly 46 years.
The killer, however, was never found — until, perhaps, this month…
Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola, friends from Pittsburgh, were to check out from the rented cottage on June 30, 1973 when an employee found their bodies.
Police believed the killer broke in through a window. Both Lynn and Janice had been shot and strangled. Janice was raped and Lynn’s neck was slashed with a wine bottle.
The contents of the women’s purses had been dumped on the cottage floor, but robbery never was considered a motive.
The horrific murders shocked a whole nation.
Police began an exhaustive search and every available detective was put on the case – but nothing led to an arrest.
“We did everything we could,” then police Captain William Haden told The Associated Press in 1998.
“We flew in the helicopter, we searched rooftops, we climbed into manholes.”
During their week in Virginia, Lynn and Janice met several men on the beach and had gone on dates.
On at least two occasions, they invited some of their new acquaintances back to the cottage for beers.
Police didn’t know if the killer knew the women, or if the victims were picked at random. Eight other women were killed in the same area over the next 12 years and several more went missing, CBS affiliate WTKR-TV reported.
For police Captain Haden, the case became personal. It all happened on his 31st birthday, and he said he felt as if the young women’s parents had entrusted their daughters to his care.
He even flew out to Los Angeles to interview suspects, who ultimately weren’t connected to the case.
“I have always referred to them as ‘my girls,'” he told the AP in 1998. “I still don’t know why this case was so personal. There is no way I can describe that to you.”
In the end Captain Haden was forced to put the case aside – the police didn’t have enough evidence to catch their killer, so the case went cold.
But the Virginia Beach police never gave up. The cold case unit began “aggressively researching” a strong lead that came in last fall.
After almost 50 years, police say a New York man has been arrested in connection with the brutal killings.
The man, Ernest Broadnax, faces two counts of second-degree murder and one count of rape in Virginia Beach. He was linked to the deaths through DNA analysis, according to Washington Post.
But four decades is a long time to wait for justice…
According to Police Chief Jim Cervera, the new development is due to “an advancement in technology that wasn’t available X number of years ago. Most of the technology, as you know, that’s coming online wasn’t available 10 years ago.”
Ernest Broadnax has previously served three prison sentences for assault, burglary, and attempted burglary in New York.
Michael Pietropola is Janice’s brother and he says he has mixed feelings about the new arrest.
It “opened up deep wounds that had been there since 1973,” Michael said.
“We hope through the trials and proceedings that we will get answers, answers that the police can’t even give us right now, so we can get some closure, some rationalization of a crazy crime that took the lives of two beautiful teenagers.”
I think it’s great they found the man that killed them. Congrats to the Officers working on the case, so happy DNA is being used to find these killers.
It goes to show you can run but you can’t hide. Rest now girls ❤️