Forty-three years after Kathy Kolodziej disappeared from a Main Street bar, State Police investigators are still hoping someone will come forward with a lead that helps them find her murderer.
That’s the plea Investigator David Ayers made before a crowd of about 50 people who turned out for the first-ever candlelight vigil held in memory of the 17-year-old SUNY Cobleskill last Tuesday in Cobleskill.
“It’s been a long, tough road with a lot of obstacles,” Investigator Ayres said in Veterans Memorial Centre Park.
“But this is how we’re going to find answers. Talk about it with everyone you know. The information is out there…Good, bad, let me be the one to judge. Events like this help keep this in the public eye. I believe someday we’re going to solve this.”
The vigil was put together by two Cobleskill friends, Jackie Farrell and Marian McKiernan, who never knew Ms. Kolodziej, but who were moved to remember her by news coverage of ongoing State Police efforts to solve the murder.
The vigil began at the Mallery Law Office--formerly the Vault Bar, one of the last places Ms. Kolodziej was seen the night she disappeared November 2, 1974—and after a brief walk downtown, ended in the park with music and a few words from both Mr. Farrell and Investigator Ayres.
A small Christmas tree decorated with two photocopied images of Ms. Kolodziej was lit as other lights and candles were extinguished.
“It’s just a moment to think about Kathy,” said Ms. Farrell.
Lisa Jones of Cobleskill was one of those who turned out to show her support.
Ms. Jones was 14 when Ms. Kolodziej was murdered and remembers being warned to walk in groups and not to get in strange cars.
“As kids, we didn’t really understand what was going on, but I know we were all told to be careful,” Ms. Jones said.
Also at the vigil were Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond and Herb Van Natten, a retired Cobleskill patrolman, both who were working in Cobleskill in 1974.
The two shared memories of that time after the vigil broke up.
Mr. Van Natten remembered that there were seven bars in Cobleskill in 1974, when the drinking age was 18, and said the accidental death of a local farmer drew more attention than a missing college freshman—at least at first.
“But I think after a few days, we all knew this wasn’t going to end well,” he said.
Sheriff Desmond was a State Trooper in ’74 and the only one on patrol the night Ms. Kolodziej disappeared.
He remembers that Ms. Kolodziej’s roommates called police and then her parents after she didn’t come home that night.
Her dad flew up from Long Island and her mom drove up, he said; both are dead now.
Sheriff Desmond continues to collect tips and follow up leads on the murder and has stayed in contact with some of Ms. Kolodziej’s old friends.
They, too, continue to follow the case, he said, still hopeful that someday her murderer will be found.
Ms. Kolodziej disappeared on November 2, 1974 and her body, clad in her own red coat, was discovered draped on a stone wall off Cross Hill Road in Richmondville that November 28.
An autopsy revealed she had been stabbed to death, but Sheriff Desmond said the coroner was unable to determine how long she had been dead.
Locals have their own theories as to whether the murderer was someone local—or someone passing through.
“Again, talk to us,” Investigator Ayres said. “Any help is appreciated. If you want to help distribute flyers, if you think you know something, let us know.”
Contact Investigator Ayres at (518) 234-9401 or (518) 234-3131.