- A 68 year-old Arizona man may face trial for his wife’s murder nearly 40 years after her death in Rochester, New York.
- Unlike some cold cases, the investigation did not include new forensic evidence. Rather, prosecutors called upon an analysis by former New York City Chief Medical Examiner Michael Baden, M.D., which re-examines Cathy Krauseneck’s time of death.
- Former Rochester District Attorney Howard Relin described the murder as “one of the most notorious and sensational murders ever in Monroe County.”
ROCHESTER, NEW YORK — A man who found his wife dead in their home with an ax embedded in her head is being charged with her murder nearly 40 years later.
Jim Krauseneck, a former Eastman-Kodak employee, claims he left for work at 6:30 a.m. Feb. 18, 1982 and returned later that day to find his bloodied wife lying dead in their home from a single blow to the head with an ax, according to exhibits presented during his pre-trial hearing. Their then 3-year-old daughter, Sara, was left alone in the house for hours with the body.
Krauseneck has been charged with one count of second degree murder. The court is scheduled decide in September whether his case will proceed to trial.
Unlike some cold cases, the investigation that eventually pointed to Krauseneck as the suspect did not include new DNA evidence. Rather, prosecutors called upon former New York City Chief Medical Examiner Michael Baden to provide an analysis that re-examined Cathy’s time of death, according to a June hearing attended by the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: Man Charged For Murder Nearly 44 Years After He Allegedly Killed His Wife)
Baden’s analysis challenges Jim Krauseneck’s alibi.
The hearing was held June 22-25 in a Rochester courtroom, overseen by New York State Supreme Court 7th District Judge Charles Schiano Jr.
Former Monroe County District Attorney Howard Relin, who testified at the hearing via Zoom June 23, called Cathy’s murder “one of the most notorious and sensational murders ever in Monroe County.”
Hearing gets underway today to determine whether the infamous Brighton Ax Murder – nearly 40 years ago- will move forward to trial. James Krauseneck is accused of killing his wife Cathy. He was arrested in 2019. pic.twitter.com/ILQ8WiTBta
— JaneFlasch (@JaneFlasch) June 22, 2021
Cathy Krauseneck’s time of death was not listed on her autopsy report. During the first investigation in 1982, a local pathologist estimated her time occurred within a seven-hour range, between 1:55 a.m and 8:55 a.m., according to court documents obtained by the DCNF.
Relin stated in court that the investigation in to who killed Cathy Krauseneck was thwarted by the unknown time of her death, claiming that information “would have been critical to present to a grand jury.”
For 37 years, investigators pursued multiple leads, including convicted murderer and rapist Edward Laraby.
Before his death in 2014, Laraby confessed to the murder of Stephanie Kupchynsky, a music teacher who disappeared in 1991 and whose remains were not found for seven years, the Democrat and Chronicle reported.
Laraby also said that he committed the murder of Cathy Krauseneck, according to court documents filed by Krauseneck’s defense.
However, he got basic details of the case wrong.
Laraby said he killed Krauseneck in the summer of 1981, despite the murder taking place in the winter of 1982, according to court documents. He also claimed that he sexually assaulted Cathy before killing her, but that was proven to be false.
Laraby was ultimately ruled out as a suspect and no other arrests were made until Dr. Baden — renowned for his work in the O.J. Simpson and John F. Kennedy investigations — presented evidence that led to Krauseneck’s arrest in 2019.
Baden stated in court documents that the human body loses temperature by 1 to 1.25 degrees per hour.
Cathy’s body temperature and physical state, according to the document, indicated that she had died between 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 19, 1982.
Baden testified in 2019 that her time of death would have allowed her husband, Jim, to have killed her prior to leaving for work that morning. (RELATED: ‘Torso Killer’ Admits To Cold-Case Murders From 1974)
Baden’s statement was contested by Krauseneck’s defense at the June hearing.
“Dr. Baden gave an opinion,” defense attorney William Easton said, the Democrat and Chronicle reported. “It wasn’t based on anything new. He just looked at this evidence that was from 1982 and using no new methodology (said), ‘I think the time of death is before 6:30’ and pushed it back. No other medical examiner that we’ve talked to was able to do that.”
The hearing saw additional testimonies from a brigade of Rochester law enforcement officials, including former police chiefs Thomas Voelkl, who retired in 2010, and Mark Henderson, who succeeded Voelkl before retiring in 2019.
Henderson stated at the hearing that during his time as chief, a “lengthy” investigation was made into the death of Cathy Krauseneck.
Krauseneck’s defense attorneys Michael Wolford, who represented him when this case began in 1982, and Easton fixated on the fact that none of the above witnesses were directly involved with the case at the time of the murder, according to the hearing attended by the DCNF.
Cathy’s family is divided about their desired outcomes for her former husband.
Her father, 93-year-old Robert Schlosser, was present at the hearing, and told the Democrat and Chronicle he wants justice for his daughter in the form of a conviction.
“I’m going to go (to the trial), hell or high water,” Schlosser said. “I want to see him with the cuffs on.”
Schlosser told the Democrat and Chronicle that Krauseneck “lied at every job he had.”
Schlosser told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Krauseneck’s lies may have led to a domestic dispute that fueled him to allegedly commit homicide. Cathy Krauseneck had confronted her husband about the alleged lies, her family told authorities, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Sara Young (née Krauseneck), the couple’s only child, has continually maintained her father’s innocence, according to a statement by Krauseneck’s defense attorneys.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the date of the September hearing.
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