NORFOLK, Va. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An 80-year-old New York man has been arrested on charges that he killed two young women in a beach cottage nearly half a century ago in Virginia, police said Tuesday.
Ernest Broadnax was arrested on Monday and faces two counts of second-degree murder and one count of rape in Virginia Beach. The slayings occurred in the summer of 1973.
Virginia Beach police did not say how they linked Broadnax to the killings however, NYPD sources told CBS2 that suspect’s DNA linked him to the crime.
Broadnax, who lives in St. Albans section of Queens, is waiting to go through extradition in New York. It’s unclear if he has an attorney. He is being held on Rikers Island pending his next court date.
For decades, the case haunted the coastal city in Virginia and the officers who launched the investigation.
Friends Janice Pietropola and Lynn Seethaler were from the Pittsburgh area and had rented a cottage about a block from the Atlantic Ocean.
Concerned when the two 19-year-olds missed their checkout time, an employee opened the door of their rented cottage, peered inside and discovered their bodies.
Pietropola was shot three times in the right side of the head with a .22-caliber gun. She also was raped and strangled.
Seethaler was shot twice in the right side of the head and face. Her neck was slashed with a wine bottle, and she also was strangled.
Every available detective was put on the case. There were hundreds of interviews and thousands of communiques with police elsewhere.
“We did everything we could,” then-police Capt. William Haden told The Associated Press in 1998. “We flew in the helicopter, we searched rooftops, we climbed into manholes.”
During their week in Virginia, Seethaler and Pietropola met several men on the beach and had gone on dates. On two occasions, they invited some of their new acquaintances back to the cottage for beers.
The contents of the women’s purses had been dumped on the cottage floor, but robbery never was considered a motive.
Police didn’t know if the killer knew the women, or if the victims were picked at random.
According to sources, Broadnax has 12 prior arrests in New York dating back to 1990. He has been arrested for burglary, assault, criminal trespass, tampering with evidence, possession of burglary tools, and multiple counts of weapons possession.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)