News10NBC Investigates: Mother of teen girl murdered 40 years ago tells jury she woke up ‘panicked’

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A cold case murder trial of Timothy Williams has been so long in the making that the police called to testify are all retired now.

But the murder of teenager Wendy Jerome in Rochester on Thanksgiving night, 1984, is still crystal clear in their minds.

Retired RPD investigator Mike Mazzeo testified at the murder trial Wednesday.

He collected the evidence that, 40 years later, was used for DNA to arrest the defendant, Williams.

“You always kept the faith that something we might have done and didn’t know what we were doing could be significant later on and so forth. I don’t know,” he said after his testimony. “But that’s what the job is about.”

The mother of the Wendy Jerome testified before Mazzeo. Marlene Jerome recalled that she took a nap after Thanksgiving dinner.

“I woke up and had this urge to run upstairs to find Wendy,” she said. “I napped until 8:15 and by then I was panicked.”

Call it a mother’s intuition: A short time later, Jerome’s daughter Wendy was found dead in an alcove alongside School 33.

Wendy Jerome was 14-years-old and had permission to walk from her home on Denver Street to a friend’s house on Alexis Street to give her a birthday card. It was three blocks away. But Wendy’s body was found bruised, bleeding, and cut next to the school. Investigators believed she was raped and murdered.

In 2020, the DA’s office used new DNA technology and District Attorney Sandra Doorley says the testing matched the profile of the defendant, Timothy Williams. He was arrested in Florida and taken back here in 2020.

Mazzeo was a public figure as the president of the Rochester police union. But in 1984, he was a civilian crime scene technician. Wednesday, he described photos and evidence collected to the jury. He talked to me about the impact of the crime scene.

“It was emotional. Certainly everyone who was working the scene and working this case,” he said. “There’s always one or two that stand out in your mind. And this was always one.”

This was the second time Mazzeo and Marlene Jerome have testified. The first trial in December ended in a mistrial because of juror misconduct.

Judge Alex Renzi told the jury about the mistrial Wednesday to explain why he stresses to them every day not to watch or use any media while the trial is underway.