Cathleen Krauseneck, 29, was found with an ax buried in her head in the family’s New York home in 1982

By Christine Pelisek
November 11, 2019 04:14 PM
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Credit: WHAM

Thirty-seven years after a Rochester, NY woman was killed in an ax attack, her husband has been charged with her murder.

In an indictment unsealed Friday, James Krauseneck Jr. is accused of second-degree murder in connection to the grisly 1982 slaying of his 29-year-old wife Cathleen in the family’s Brighton home.

Krauseneck, 67, has pleaded not guilty and is free on $100,000 bail.

“Over 37 years ago, Sara Krauseneck lost her mother and Jim Krauseneck lost his wife. Today marks a further tragedy – Jim being charged with Cathleen’s murder,” Krauseneck attorneys Michael Wolford and William Easton said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Jim’s innocence was clear 37 years ago; it’s clear today. At the end of the case, I have no doubt Jim will be vindicated.”

Krauseneck’s attorneys said he has cooperated with the investigation, “repeatedly giving statements to the police, consenting to the search of his home and his car,” the lawyers said. “We believe bringing this indictment is a mistake. I have no doubt that we’ll demonstrate this as we defend Jim against this misguided prosecution.”

The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office didn’t return a call for comment.

Cathy’s sister, Annet Schlosser, told MSN his indictment was a “huge step forward.”

“My family will see justice for Cathy, we hope,” Schlosser said. “We still have a ways to go yet with the trial, but this is a huge step forward.”

According to the News Tribune, Krauseneck found his wife dead in her bed with an ax buried in her skull on Feb. 19, 1982. The couple’s three-and-a-half year old daughter Sara was home during the killing, but uninjured.

At the time the case was dubbed the “Brighton ax murder.”

Police originally suspected burglars in the killing because a window had been broken from the outside. The handle of the ax, which was taken from the garage, had been cleaned and police were unable to pull fingerprints, the News Tribune reports.

Krauseneck allegedly didn’t show up for an interview the following day and had taken his daughter to Michigan.

“He gave the appearance of wanting to be cooperative,” investigator Mark Liberatore told The News Tribune in 2016. “But then he got a lawyer, and we never talked to him again for 34 years.”

According to WHAM, the case was reopened in 2016 and the Brighton police asked the FBI to look at the crime scene evidence.

“The crime was in the early 1980s,” said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jeremy Bell in 2016 “The science behind the DNA has come a long way since that time, so we’re able to use that new science to help out the Brighton Police Department.”

However, it is unclear what, if anything, the FBI found.

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According to Krauseneck’s attorneys, at the time of the slaying, Krauseneck was an economist at Kodak Company. He later retired as a Weyerhaeuser executive.

“For the last 37 years, Jim has continued to contribute to society,” his lawyers said.

Krauseneck’s daughter traveled from out of state to be with her father when he entered a not guilty plea.

“She has never doubted her father’s innocence,” said his lawyers.

A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 27.WENY News