‘This door is closed’: Timothy Williams found guilty of 1984 murder of Wendy Jerome

Victim’s mother, DA, investigator speak after Williams verdict

Victim's mother, DA, investigator speak after Williams verdict

UPDATE: Timothy Williams was found guilty Friday of all three counts of second-degree murder in the 1984 killing of 14-year-old Wendy Jerome.

Sentencing is set for April 17 at 9:30 a.m.

It was an emotional day for Wendy’s family and loved ones filled up nearly three rows of the gallery, every day of the trial — her mother, brother, cousins, aunts and uncles, even a childhood friend. Friday was the day they’ve been waiting for, and they went through a lot to get there: This was the second trial for Williams, after a judge declared a mistrial in December.

And for Jerome’s family, the verdict has been a long time coming.

“This door is closed. After all these years, this door is closed,” said Marlene Jerome, Wendy’s mother.

As family existed the courtroom, it was quiet, and bittersweet, with hugs, tears and some smiles. It was like a team — a team of family, investigators and attorneys, who have been waiting years for this moment.

That night, Thanksgiving of 1984, Wendy, a high school freshman, left home to deliver a birthday card to a friend who would soon be out of town. She never made it home. She was brutally beaten, raped and killed.

That night marked the beginning of a long journey, one that dozens of investigators would take part in over time. In 2020, new technology entered the picture, and familial DNA helped link investigators to Williams.

“She is and always will be my heart, my heart — that’s who I was. She was a friend, she was a daughter, she was a sister,” Marlene Jerome said.

As Marlene and her family left the courtroom, there was one person who never left her side — Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Dooley, who has been working on this case for years. And what a journey it’s been: In December, another judge ruled a mistrial due to juror misconduct. But Doorley said she never gave up.

“I wanted to make sure I could be Wendy’s voice in that courtroom — and I know that, I know that Wendy was guiding me, I’ll say that,” Doorley said.

Also showing support Friday were several investigators who helped make the arrest in 2020, following new familial DNA technology. One of those key players was Captain Frank Umbrino.

“Speechless — to say that we’re ecstatic for the family is an understatement. Words cannot describe what these guys are feeling, what I’m feeling, what the entire unit is feeling right now, because of them,” Umbrino said, indicating Jerome’s family. “ya know so. “… It’s why we come on this job, it’s why these guys do this job.”

I asked Marlene Jerome how it felt to see all those investigators showing up for support today.

“I can’t put it into words, I can’t put it into words. They’re — there’s so many of them, have given everything they’ve got from so many different agencies, people that I didn’t know behind the scenes that worked on this case,” she said.

Retired Investigator John Brennan said, “We were lucky that we had science on this. And ya know, I joke there was a kid in middle school at the time of this murder, that went to school to become a scientist and help police solve this.”

Williams’ sentencing will be April 17. He faces 25 years to life in prison.

This is the first familiar DNA conviction in New York State. There was no rape charge, since the statute of limitations ran out on that charge.

News10NBC has reached out to Williams’ defense attorney for comment.

Please watch News10NBC’s broadcasts at 5 and 6 p.m. for updates; as well, this article will be updated.

(Original post follows:)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Deliberations have resumed on Friday in the trial of Timothy Williams, the man accused of the 1984 murder of a 14-year-old girl in Rochester.

News10NBC’s Eriketa Cost is at the Hall of Justice. Follow her for the latest updates on the trial.

The 12 jurors began deliberating on Thursday after closing arguments and after Williams took the stand in his own defense. He is facing three counts of murder. 

On Thanksgiving night in 1984, Wendy Jerome went to deliver a birthday card to a friend, but she never made it back to her Denver Street home. 

Her body was found that night outside school 33 on Webster Avenue. Police say Jerome had been brutally and violently assaulted, had fractured her skull and broken her nose, had severe bruising and lacerations, and had even lost a tooth.

Williams had been questioned at the time of the murder, but claimed he didn’t know Wendy. The case went cold for 40 years, until forensic analysts identified Williams as a suspect in 2020.

This is the second time for this trial. The last judge, Thomas Moran, called a mistrial due to juror misconduct in December.