Though 38 years have passed since a young SUNY Cobleskill student was found murdered four miles from campus, social media outlets are breathing new energy into a search for her killer.
Katherine Kolodziej was 17 when her body was found in Richmondville. She’d been stabbed to death elsewhere and her body taken to a field and dumped on top of a wall. Police have been working the case ever since.
Law enforcement officials gathered Tuesday to bring attention to a new billboard and to thank New York State Crime Stoppers for offering a $2,500 reward for information about the November 1974 killing.
Kolodziej was last seen at the Vault Bar and Grill in Cobleskill around 1:30 a.m. Nov. 2, 1974, according to police. The bar building, situated at the corner of Main and North Grand streets, is now an office.
Police said Kolodziej didn’t return to campus with her roommate, who left at midnight, telling her she planned to return with a friend instead. But she never did.
Police were alerted to a red shoe found near Cross Hill Road in Richmondville the day before Thanksgiving. As police organized a search in the area the next day, a hunter stopped and alerted investigators to a red object he’d seen in a nearby field.
Not long afterward, police discovered Kolodziej’s body on a rock wall not far from the intersection of MacDonald and Cross Hill roads. The red seen by the hunter was Kolodziej’s coat, the only thing she was wearing.
The Long Island native, a freshman and aspiring veterinarian, had been in Schoharie County for only 60 days, state police Sr. Inv. William John said.
“She didn’t deserve this,” he said.
Kolodziej was an only child and her parents have since died, John said.
The case has been on the mind of Schoharie County Sheriff Anthony Desmond for all of the 38 years since then — he was involved in the investigation from the outset as a young state trooper.
“We need to keep her story out there,” he said.
Police during their investigation considered serial killer Ted Bundy as a potential suspect after police received two reports of a woman matching Kolodziej’s description entering a Volkswagen similar to Bundy’s near the tavern. But John said Bundy and other serial killers have been ruled out as suspects.
The investigation is getting a boost from the attention of Crime Stoppers. Adding to the crime-fighting group’s efforts is a massive billboard posted on Route 7 through the generosity of billboard owner Roger J. Mallory, who is donating its use free of charge.
Crime Stoppers, a nonprofit dedicated to working with police and the media toward safer communities, recently launched a Crime Fighting Mobile App for smartphones — an advent of technology state police Capt. Steven James said adds to the ways people can provide police with helpful information.
The free Crime Stoppers app gives users a way to provide tips and email photos using their smartphones. The phone-based program, created by Cellflare, includes links to Crime Stoppers’ highlighted investigations and provides precise directions to local police departments and gives the ability to give tips anonymously if users wish.
People can download the app at http://nyscrimestoppers.org/.
No tips are bad tips, James said, and people who recall anything about that night are urged to contact police. Cases as much as 40 years old have been solved before, and he said keeping secrets about a crime can wear on people as years pass.
“I would think that’s an awesome burden to carry,” he said.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-313-TIPS (8477) or state police at 234-9400.