DA: East Greenbush murder from 1994 solved through tip, fingerprint

Victim Wilomeana "Violet" Filkins. Source: Rensselaer County District Attorney's Office

Victim Wilomeana "Violet" Filkins. Source: Rensselaer County District Attorney's Office

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EAST GREENBUSH – Police in East Greenbush have solved 1994 murder a town woman – more than 28 years after she was killed, Rensselaer County law enforcement announced Thursday.

Wilomena “Violet” Filkins was found murdered in her Coventry Lane apartment Aug. 19, 1994 and the case had remained unsolved.

In recent years, a tip allowed investigators to zero in on an Ulster County man who later committed suicide, authorities said.

Authorities Thursday identified that man as Jeremiah James Guyette, who was 33 when he killed himself in October 2019 and 18 when Filkins was murdered.

Investigators cited a tip from a close acquaintance as leading New York State Police and East Greenbush Police investigators to Rosendale, Ulster County. They conducted extensive interviews of family members, co-workers and friends.

When they attempted to interview Guyette, though, he quickly requested an attorney. The day after, investigators learned he had taken his own life, officials said.

Suspect Jeremiah James Guyette. Source: Rensselaer County District Attorney

After an autopsy, investigators then collected Guyette’s post-mortem fingerprints and DNA and submitted those for further comparison to the original evidence.

Then, in 2021, a “latent unknown fingerprint off of Violet’s coffee table” was re-submitted to the state police Forensic Investigation Unit to coincide with his DNA post-mortem, according to a timeline provided.

In 2022, they learned the suspect fingerprint matched and phone records to a family member were reviewed and corroborated, the timeline read.

On Thursday, investigators officially closed the 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 in a statement.

Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly also commented.

“Each and every lead counts when investigating crime,” Donnelly said in her own statement, “no matter how small the detail, it could be useful in an investigation. In this, all of those leads brought us to Jeremiah Guyette.”

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