COBLESKILL, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Nearly 50 years after a woman was murdered in Cobleskill the community is still reeling from her loss. The cold case has been reignited and conversations in the small town on Monday night were centered around who killed Kathy Kolodziej?
Kathy was originally from Long Island and attended SUNY Cobleskill at the time of her murder. Her Long Island family is still searching for answers after she was murdered on Halloween night in 1974.
On Monday night a vigil was held for Kolodziej in hopes of generating new leads. Her cousins and friends were in attendance, alongside those who did not know her but were moved by her story and are still worried about her case.
Maria Kolodziej said Kathy’s mother had a feeling Kathy was dead when they initially heard she was missing. They found out she died on Thanksgiving, her parents were devastated.
“He was so heartbroken that the neighbors actually heard him crying too. They all heard them crying and screaming and everything. It was horrific,” said Maria.
A year after Kathy was murdered, 8 year old Maria and her sister, Jolanta, were adopted by Kathy’s parents. She explained Kathy’s father is her uncle and they are from Poland.
Maria said her family struggled to make ends meet and they would often get Kathy’s hand me downs. She said Kathy’s parents visited Poland to adopt a child in 1975 but when they saw her in Kathy’s old dress they had to adopt her and her sister.
Maria said her family had no electricity in Poland and they were grateful for the opportunity to move to the U.S. But they witnessed the pain and sorrow felt by two parents who mourned the loss of their only child up close. The parents have since passed and have left Maria to carry on Kathy’s memory.
“It would be nice if the case was solved and bring some closure to the family because we always wanted answers,” said Maria.
New York State Police Senior Investigator Paul Davignon is currently assigned to Kathy’s case. “I think it’s good for the public and for the family to know that we are still actively working this case,” said Davginon. “The fact that it took place in the 1970s, it has passed through the hands of many investigators and units throughout the years so there has been a tremendous amount of work done on this case.”
He attended Monday night’s vigil in hopes that it will generate new leads. “I think pretty much every avenue that could have been covered, has been covered at this point, but we are still going back and re-interviewing people. We are still getting leads that come in, they trickle in periodically a few times a year. But one of the big things that we are trying to do right now is look at DNA,” said Davignon.
He said over 3,000 people have been interviewed in the case and that has generated thousands of documents. Because it’s an ongoing investigation not all of those files are publicly available, which has frustrated Michelina Serino. She is from Long Island and started renewing interest in Kathy’s case in May, conducting her own interviews. Serino’s intrigue with this case led her to organize Monday night’s vigil.
“It was just beautiful, everyone came together. It was perfect. Everything was perfect and we put that beautiful cross there for Kathy,” said Serino.
Davignon said he’s been helping Serino as much as he can with the information he can share with her. And she’s been sharing her information with them as well.
“Actually a gentleman came up to me yesterday because he had seen it in the paper or the news and he said that he had a bit of information he wanted to talk to me about so I got his card. I will talk to him and interview him and of course, give that to Paul Davignon, the lead investigator in the case,” said Serino.
Davignon said they are re-evaluating evidence in hopes that it will produce something useful.
“There’s a lot of evidence taken on this case especially, and it’s been analyzed multiple times, and the more you analyze it, obviously, it becomes degraded and you may not be able to utilize it again or it’s something we can and that’s kind of where we are right now,” said Davignon.
He said they will be re-submitting that evidence to be analyzed in the coming weeks.
Serino has become close to Kathy’s friends and feels that had Kathy not been murdered she would be friends with her too.
“It started becoming personal for me in that sense. Kathy was really a funny girl and she was a pretty girl and she just had everything going right and it’s just so unfair. Why? Why?” said Serino. “I would just love to see the case solved for her family that’s still living.”
She hopes the case will continue to gain traction that they can build on to bring peace of mind to the Cobleskill community and justice to Kathy’s family.
“I can see this girl is never going to be forgotten upstate in Cobleskill. I can see that, so if we can do something in her name and keep it going, we’ll just keep it going and hopefully somehow solve this case,” said Serino.
Kathy loved animals, especially horses, so Serino said they’re planning on doing something possibly related to animals to carry on Kathy’s name.