Wilomeana Filkins: How a Netflix show on cold homicides helped cops solve 1994 murder of elderly woman
EAST GREENBUSH, NEW YORK: A vicious murder that stayed cold for nearly 30 years has finally been solved, but justice won't be served. On August 19, 1994, Wilomeana 'Violet' Filkins, 81, was found dead in her East Greenbush apartment by her brother and niece after her family was unable to contact her.
It was later known the elderly woman had died two days earlier after suffering multiple blows to her head. "She was a very simple woman, lived quietly, and would have never envisioned what occurred," Filkins' niece, Carol, said. With no murder weapon or suspect, the case remained unsolved for years until officials in Upstate New York finally hit a breakthrough. Suspect Jeremiah J Guyette was linked to Filkins' death, but he took his own life in 2019, authorities said.
However, police collected Guyette's DNA after he died and matched it to a thumbprint found on a coffee table in Filkins' suburban Albany apartment. "Over the course of my career every time there was a changeover in our Detective bureau there was a promise made from one detective to another to never stop investigating this case in order to find justice for Violet and her family," said East Greenbush Police Chief Elaine Rudzinski, as reported by Fox News.
Guyette's ex-girlfriend came forward after a Netflix show on cold homicides prompted her to recollect strange statements Guyette made about an elderly woman. "The ex-girlfriend that came forward really had never thought about the statements that Jeremiah had made to her," East Greenbush police 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," he said.
Guyette, a Minnesota native, had moved to East Greenbush to live with his father and graduated from Columbia High School in 1994, said Guadagnino. At the time of the killing, he was only 17 and planned to steal a car and rob a bank to pay for college. He later enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at the then-Patrick Air Force Base south of Cape Canaveral. After being discharged from the force, the suspect moved to Rosendale. Police learned that Guyette used to drive a school bus at the time, and a bus for the elderly in the town.
Authorities questioned Guyette in 2019 but he quickly got defensive and visibly upset, Guadagnino said. The following day, the New York State Police was called to Guyette's apartment over reports of a shot fired. When police arrived, they found Guyette dead in his garage.