EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Wilomeana Filkins, known to her friends and family as Violet, was found dead in her East Greenbush apartment by her brother Sterling and niece Carol on Aug. 19, 1994. 

News10’s Skylar Eagle sat down with Carol, who explains when she first thought something was off.

“I noticed that the drapes were caught in the door and I said ‘This doesn’t look like it’s locked,'” Filkins said. “That’s when I opened the door and found her right there in front of the door, it was a big shock.” 

More than 28 years later, police say they solved her murder.

“We have identified the suspect of the 1994 murder of 81-year-old Wilomeana Violet Filkins as one Jeremiah James Guyette,” Elaine Rudzinski, East Greenbush Police Chief, said.

Police said Guyette had plans to steal a car and rob a bank to get money for college. Following the discovery of Violet’s body, police canvassed the apartment complex, interviewing hundreds of witnesses, including Guyette, shortly after the murder, his apartment just around the corner. 

Police chased thousands of leads until 2019 when an ex-girlfriend recalled 10-year-old comments Guyette made to her about an old woman and notified police. 

“The ex-girlfriend that came forward really had never thought about the statements that Jeremiah had made to her,”  Detective Sergeant Michael Guadagnino said. “She was watching cold case homicides on Netflix, saw that and it sprung her attention. She started googling different stuff and saw that Jeremiah had lived in East Greenbush during the time of Violet’s murder, put two and two together and once we got that tip we were able to basically dissect Jeremiah’s life, the different places he lived and then run with that information.”

On Oct. 1, 2019, police attempted to question Guyette, who lived in Ulster County. They also spoke to members of his family and co-workers. 

The next day, NYS Police were called to Guyette’s apartment for reports of shots fired, finding him dead by suicide in his garage. 

His autopsy leading to the final discovery in this case — thumbprints that matched a partial thumbprint from the crime scene, leading police to corroborate the full story with an immediate member of Guyette’s family in October of 2022.  

“The thumbprint was the final bow on the case,” Guadagnino said. “We really only had hearsay information before that. Once we were able to resubmit evidence and resubmit that piece of the table with the thumbprint, investigators from State Police did an amazing job and they didn’t use the computers they used their eyes and were able to link that thumb print to Jeremiah’s left thumb.” 

Violet’s niece, Carol, tells News10’s Skylar Eagle while she still feels the loss of her aunt, the discovery finally brings closure to the Filkins family after almost 30 years. 

“Unfortunately, it’s probably something that neither party thought was going to happen that day but it did, it was a tragedy,” Filkins said. “It took a very long time to get the answers but they have gotten them.” 

Watch the full live stream of the press conference here: