80-year-old man arrested after DNA links him to 1973 murders of two women on a holiday at Virginia Beach
An 80-year-old Queens man was arrested for the rape and murder of two young women in Virginia Beach in 1973, police said. The authorities said on April 9 that Ernest Broadnax was connected to the crime after DNA evidence linked him to the double homicide, which took place at a motel in Virginia Beach in 1973. The case had initially been investigated as part of a possible serial-killer pattern.
The New York Post reported that the elderly murderer had been living in NYC since at least 1990 and was arrested on April 8 from a residence in St. Albans, Queens, after a warrant was issued from Virginia by the NYPD’s Cold Case Apprehension Squad. Broadnax has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of rape in the killings of 19-year-old Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola.
The young women, who were both from Pittsburgh, were on a holiday Broadnax ended their lives. Sources told The Post that the "strong" lead which the Virginia Beach police spoke about towards the end of 2018 was the DNA evidence that led right to Broadnax. The same sources also said that he confessed to the police and this linked him to the crime. He will be extradited on April 22.
Neighbors have described Broadnax as being a recluse who had actually hinted at his mysterious and dark past. One 62-year-old neighbor, who wished to stay anonymous, told The Post: "He told me he did something years ago, that he hurt somebody. But he didn’t say anything about killing two people. Damn!"
The authorities have said that the crime took place early in the morning on June 30, 1973, and that it was so evil that it shocked the local community. Broadnax had allegedly climbed through the window of the seaside motel cottage which the two young women had rented out. It had been their last night in town and they were supposed to check out of the cottage and return to their homes the following afternoon.
Seethaler, who worked as a secretary, was strangled, shot in the cheek and the temple, and then slashed in the throat with a wine bottle. Pietropola, who was an editorial employee at a financial magazine, was raped, strangled, and then shot on the right side of the head three times. Both women, who had been high-school friends, were found partially clothed in separate rooms, with one of them being naked from the waist down.
When the corpses were found after the women failed to check out of their cottage, every available detective had been put on the case. No clues were found at the time, however, and the violent murders continued in the small town. WTKR reported that at least eight other women were killed in Virginia Beach over the course of 12 years and even more disappeared around that period of time.
The Virginia Beach police told the outlet in 2011, for the very first time, that all the victims, including Seethaler and Pietropola, were murdered by a serial killer. Even though all of the murders were different, they all had one thing linking them together which was their appearance. The women who were found dead or had vanished were all white and attractive women between 18 and 25 years of age.
The station said that DNA evidence which was recovered from Seethaler and Pietropola's crime was recovered and retested by the FBI in 2011. There was also DNA recovered from two other murders which were retested using modern technology. The authorities are yet to say if Broadnax is a suspect in any of the other crimes which have been mentioned. He was charged in 1990 for a burglary in Queens and was sent to an upstate prison for two years.