Update: Is Ernest Broadnax a Serial Killer? Apr 10, 2019 20:32:54 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on Apr 10, 2019 20:32:54 GMT -5
Is Man Arrested for Virginia Beach Murders a Serial Killer?
On the morning of Saturday, June 30, 1973, the bodies of two white females were discovered in an oceanfront cottage in Virginia Beach. The young women, both 19, were Lynn Seethaler (left) and Janice Pietropola of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was apparent they had fought desperately for their lives. “There was a tremendous amount of violence that took place inside a little cottage,” one detective said at the time. The medical examiner’s reports indicated Seethaler had been strangled, shot twice, in the cheek and head, and her throat had been slashed with a broken wine bottle. Pietropola had been strangled, shot three times in the right side of her head and there was evidence of rape.
Forty-five years, nine months and eight days later, law enforcement officers appeared at the home of Ernest Broadnax in Queens, New York, and arrested him for the murders. The 80-year-old black man is now facing two counts of second-degree murder and one count of rape.
“The NYPD assisted detectives from the Virginia Beach Police Department in locating, apprehending and collecting forensic evidence from Ernest Jean Broadnax,” Sgt. Jessica McRorie, an NYPD spokeswoman, told the press. She did not elaborate on what sort of technology was used to link Broadnax to the killings.
Kevin Wallace, 60, a neighbor who knows Broadnax said the police brought the accused killer a bottle of water when they came to arrest him and he wasn’t handcuffed when they led him out. “They gave it [the water] to him, dressed him up. and he went quietly. He went very quietly,” Wallace added. “He knew he did it. They couldn’t find him and all of the sudden, they found him.”
Detectives also collected forensic evidence from the accused’s apartment. “They came and knocked on his door, they asked him if he was Ernest, and he said yes,” Wallace continued. “Then they said, ‘Mr. Ernest we have a [bottle] of water.’ He was a quiet man, very quiet, stayed to himself.”
Another acquaintance who lived in the same veterans housing development, said he believed as Broadnax “got older, he was looking for forgiveness. He would tell me about what he did in the past. He talked about doing time. I thought they were what you call war stories.”
Broadnax, who walks with a cane, was arraigned Tuesday night and waived extradition to Virginia. His lawyer, Peter James Laumann, declined to comment. The accused is being held in a city jail pending transfer.
Broadnax has a long criminal history, having been arrested at least 14 times on charges of burglary, assault and weapons possession. He served at least two stints in New York prisons, including three years for burglary beginning in 1999 and another eight for assault starting in 2006. The assault conviction was for the 2005 beating of a man with a metal pipe during which Broadnax shattered the victim’s arm. He was released from prison in 2013.
Nevertheless, some were surprised by the arrest. “That’s not the man we know,” the assistant pastor at the Second Chance Deliverance Church said. “He was humbled by life.”
Seethaler and Pietropola were high school friends who had graduated the previous year. At the time of their Virginia Beach vacation, Seethaler was working as a secretary and Pietropola was employed as an editorial assistant at a financial magazine. They were due to return to Pittsburgh the day their bodies were found by a motel employee who went to their cottage to see why they hadn’t checked out.
The killer gained access to the unit by removing a window screen. The contents of the women’s handbags were dumped on the floor of their room, but investigators did not believe robbery was a motive. Police were never able to determine if the attack was random, or if the killer saw the girls somewhere, followed them to find out where they were staying and planned the attack.
Missing and murdered women. In the 1970s and early 80s, 10 other women disappeared or were murdered on or near the oceanfront in Virginia Beach. In July 1974, just 15 blocks from the motel where Seethaler and Pietropola were killed, 24-year-old Beverly Christensen was found strangled in her apartment, and Brenda Joi Bancroft, 24, was murdered on Christmas Eve. Two years later, in May 1976, the corpse of a headless, handless female washed up in Chesapeake Bay: She has never been identified.
Then three young women simply vanished: Judy Ann Sylvester, 22, was last seen in January 1977, and six months later, in July, 24-year-old Lorraine Zimmerman was reported missing. In August of 1979, Barbara Jean Monaco, 17, disappeared. The beaten and strangled body of a fourth woman, Alice Eskew, 18, was discovered at First Landing State Park in September 1979.
The murders of attractive young white women continued into the 1980s. The bodies of Joanne Zwingman and Christine Pilczak were found floating in the Atlantic on August 19, 1983. Two years later, in July 1985, Rafaella Bryant, a 20-year-old waitress, was strangled and left in a burning car.
Though many suspect a serial killer was operating in Virginia Beach, the cases have never been formally linked. “You still got to connect the dots,” explained former Virginia Beach Police Captain William Hayden. “Those dots were never able to be firmly connected.”
What did match were the victims themselves. “It’s been a focus, but there has never been anything to flesh it out, to bring it where there is any single factor that runs through all of the cases, except for the fact that they are young white females between the ages of 18 [sic] and 25,” a Virginia Beach Police spokesperson confirmed.
At this time, Broadnax has not been implicated in the murders or disappearances of any of the other 10 women.
Sources: Stephen Sorace, Fox News, April 10, 2019; Esha Ray, Thomas Tracy, Graham Rayman and Kerry Burke, The New York Daily News, April 9, 2019; Mike Mather, WTKR, May 15, 2012; and the Cold Case Homicide Unit, Virginia Beach Police Department.