Wednesday, April 10, 2019

80-year-old man charged in 1973 cold-case murders of 2 women who were vacationing in Virginia Beach

Posted: 10:07 AM, April 10, 2019 
Updated: 10:07 AM, April 10, 2019 

A killer has been identified in the 1973 cold-case murders of Janice Pietropola and Lynn Seethaler, according to police. (Virginia Beach Police Department)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - An 80-year-old man has been charged in the cold-case murders of two 19-year-old women who were killed while vacationing in Virginia Beach in 1973, officials said.

Ernest Broadnax was arrested Monday in New York City. He is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of rape.

Janice Pietropola and Lynn Seethaler were longtime friends from suburban Pittsburgh who were killed while visiting the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Their bodies were found June 30, 1973 inside a cottage they had rented, investigators said.

A motel employee found the women deceased after they had missed their checkout time, according to a report from the Virginia Pilot.

Pietropola had been raped, strangled, and shot three times in the head. Seethaler had been strangled, shot twice in the head, and had her throat slashed with a broken wine bottle, the report said. Police said the killer had removed a window screen and climbed into their room. 

Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola were killed while vacationing in Virginia Beach in June 1973, according to investigators. (Virginia Beach Police Department)

Authorities had interviewed hundreds of suspects and chased thousands of leads by the late 1980s, but they were unable to identify the killer.

Cold case investigators with the Virginia Beach Police began "aggressively researching a strong lead" in the fall of 2018, according to a statement from the department. That research led to Broadnax being identified as the perpetrator of the crimes.

Authorities did not disclose how Broadnax was identified, nor did they provide any of the evidence against him as the case is still pending.

As of Tuesday, Broadnax was awaiting the extradition process.

Broadnax has 10 prior arrests for charges including burglary, assault, and weapons possession, police said. He served three years in prison for burglary beginning in 1999, and eight for assault starting in 2006. Broadnax was convicted of beating another man with a metal pipe and shattering his arm in 2005, records show.

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