Double Initial Murders: Wanda Walkowicz
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) If you lived in Rochester in the 1970s, it’s something you’ll probably never forget.
Three young Rochester girls were brutally murdered. Their bodies were dumped in or near a town that started with the same initial as their first and last names.
News10NBC obtained evidence never seen before in the case of Wanda Walkowicz.
The little redhead of Avenue D. That’s how people remembered Walkowicz. She was 11 years old when she disappeared just blocks from her home on April 2, 1973. The next day, her body was found near the Bay Bridge rest area off Route 104 in Webster.
A state trooper found her body dumped in a ditch. Law enforcement across the area were looking for Walkowicz along roadsides because of the case’s similarities to the Carmen Colon case. New York State Police Investigator George Grbic took News10NBC back to the scene of the crime.
“Her body was fully clothed and lying face down in the grass,” said Inv. Grbic.
The day before her body was found, Walkowicz had gone to the Hillside Delicatessen to pick up some groceries for her mother. That was around 5:30 p.m. It was just three blocks from her home on Avenue D.
Bill Van Orden, a clerk at the deli, was one of the last people to see Walkowicz alive. News10NBC interviewed him at the time. He said Walkowicz bought milk, bread, cigarettes, and diapers.
Reporter: “Then she left the store immediately after?”
Van Orden: “Yes.”
Reporter: “Which way did she go?”
Van Orden: “Down Conkey.”
Reporter: “Did you see anybody with her?”
Van Orden: “No. She came in by herself, and she left by herself.”
Witnesses reported seeing Walkowicz on her way home outside what was then School No. 8 on Conkey Avenue. She was struggling with the grocery bags. They also said they saw a large brown car driving slowly down the street towards Walkowicz.
“When the witnesses looked back again, Wanda was gone and so was the vehicle,” said Inv. Grbic. News10NBC interviewed Walkowicz’s teacher at the time.
“I don’t think she was the kind of girl to get into the car with a stranger,” said Joseph Hillman. “I think she’s much too bright for this.”
“Wanda was described as being street smart,” said Inv. Grbic. “It was probably someone she had some level of familiarity with.”
Whoever it was committed a brutal crime. Walkowicz who was just four feet tall and 65 pounds had been raped, strangled and dumped about seven and a half miles from where she was abducted.
“We have evidence that supports a sexual assault occurred,” said Inv. Grbic.
Specifically, a semen sample and a pubic hair. State police shared pictures with News10NBC of what Walkowicz was wearing when she was abducted and killed. They have never been released to the public.
“The coat is a multi-colored coat with a pattern on it. She was wearing a blue dress; blue and white checkered dress and then she was also wearing green shorts,” described Inv. Grbic. “It’s believed she was re-dressed after the sexual assault.”
The state police helicopter was sent up above the crime scene and the neighborhood where Walkowicz disappeared. Investigator Grbic showed News10NBC the aerial pictures that were taken that day.
Walkowicz’s mother, Joyce Walkowicz, a widow, had to be taken to the hospital twice for emotional stress.
“Parents must have been just filled with fear,” said Inv. Grbic.
People were already on edge after the murder of 10-year-old Carmen Colon a year and a half earlier. The Rochester girl had also been abducted, raped and strangled. Her body was left in a ditch near Churchville.
“Those cases have never been genetically linked,” said Inv. Grbic. “Now this particular case, we do have DNA.”
However, investigators have never been able to find a match. That could change with advancements in technology.
“We’re just one swab from figuring out who did this. Once we get that match, we’re off to the races,” said Inv. Grbic.
If you have any information on the murder of Wanda Walkowicz call New York State Police at (585) 398-4100. You can also email: firstname.lastname@example.org.