Marion Police identify cold case tied to Krajcir

Matt Hawkins

Timothy Krajcir, already convicted of a 1982 Carbondale 

murder and tied to six other deaths across several states, has been 

connected to the unsolved 1978 murder of Marion resident Virginia Lee 

Witte.

Witte was brutally murdered in her Westernaire Estates home in the 

early morning hours of May 12, 1978. Her body was discovered by her 

husband, David F. Witte, shortly after 1 p.m.

An investigation by the Marion Police Department and the Williamson 

County Detective Unit turned up no suspects, even though over 100 

pieces of physical and forensic evidence were collected from the 

crime scene.

Many leads involving the case were followed without success. The Wite 

homicide eventually became classified as a “cold case” investigation.

In recent weeks, Marion police were contacted by Carbondale police 

investigator Lt. Paul Echols, who was investigating the 1982 

Carbondale homicide investigation of Deborah Sheppard. Lt. Echols 

identified Kracjir as the suspect in that investigation.

Similarities in the Sheppard and Witte evidence led Echols and Marion 

Police Det. Tina Morrow to further investigate a possible connection. 

Subsequent reviews led Marion Police Chief Gene Goolsby to tell the 

Marion Daily on Wednesday that an old case was being investigated for 

possible ties to Krajcir.

On Thursday, Goolsby said that Kracjir had been interviewed by 

investigators from the Marion Police Department and “he provided 

several pertinent pieces of information regarding the Witte 

investigation, as well as information pertaining to three previously 

unsolved sexual assaults and robberies that occurred in the 

Williamson County area in 1982.”

Det. Morrow said this morning that when looking for connections 

between cases, police study the mode of operation (M.O.) of the 

perpetrator.

“You look at the M.O. used and similarities between the ways the 

crimes were committed,” Morrow said. “Was there a sexual assault 

connected? What type of violence occurred? What methods were used?

“That can help tie a cold case to other crimes committed around the 

same time.”

Goolsby said Thursday that his department will continue the 

investigation in to the Witte murder and follow any and all pertinent 

leads to the fullest extent.

“The Marion Police Department has notified the Williamson County 

State’s Attorney’s office of the recent developments in the Witte 

case and will continue to update their office with any additional 

information or details regarding this investigation.”

Investigators in several states are looking at unsolved murder cases 

from the late 1970s and early 1980s to determine Krajcir could have 

been involved.

Krajcir, 63, pleaded guilty Monday to the rape and murder of 

Shepherd, a Southern Illinois University student. Later Monday, he 

was charged in Cape Girardeau, Mo., with killing five women from 1977 

to 1982. Authorities also announced that day that Krajcir admitted to 

three other killings.

The locations of those killings were not released, but police in 

Reading, Pa. and Paducah, Ky. – in addition to Marion – are taking a 

close look at Krajcir. Meanwhile, authorities in Poplar Bluff, Mo., 

and New York, New Jersey and Colorado are also reviewing unsolved 

cases to see if there is a possible link.

Krajcir, a native of Allentown, Pa., has spent most of his adult life 

behind bars for sex crimes. After a stint with the Navy, he first 

entered the Illinois prison system in 1963 on rape charges. Except 

for a brief period of freedom in the late 1970s and early 1980s, 

Krajcir has been in prison ever since.

It was DNA evidence that connected Krajcir to the Sheppard killing in 

Carbondale and the Cape Girardeau murders. Authorities in 

Pennsylvania said DNA evidence also links him to the 1979 murder of 

51-year-old Myrtle Rupp, found strangled inside her Reading home.

DNA collected from the murder scene was submitted to a nationwide 

database and Krajcir came up as a match, Pennsylvania State Police 

Lt. Thomas G. McDaniel said.

‘‘We feel pretty confident in the investigation,’’ McDaniel said. And 

authorities were investigating whether Krajcir could have been 

involved in other unsolved crimes in Pennsylvania.

In Kentucky, Paducah police stopped short of calling Krajcir a 

suspect but said in a statement that the department is reviewing cold 

cases from the 1970s and early 1980s for a possible connection.

‘‘Detectives hope to interview Mr. Krajcir if they conclude he might 

be involved in any of Paducah’s unsolved cases,’’ the statement said. 

Police declined additional comment.

Poplar Bluff Deputy Police Chief Jeff Rolland said Krajcir is not 

likely connected to the unsolved case there because it dates to 

around 1971 — Krajcir was apparently in prison at that time. ‘‘But we 

wanted to check it out just in case,’’ he said.

Krajcir attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale around 

the time of the killings. Cape Girardeau is about 35 miles from 

Carbondale. Paducah is 55 miles away. Marion is just 16 miles away.

Another crime in Cape Girardeau from the same era — the 1979 murder 

of Deborah Martin, remains unsolved, but Smith said evidence suggests 

Krajcir was not connected to that crime.

Smith said Krajcir agreed to admit to the killings in Cape Girardeau 

and Carbondale only after authorities promised not to pursue the 

death penalty. Smith said it is possible Krajcir killed others in 

addition to the ones he’s admitted to, but he doubted it.

‘‘He disclosed some things he wasn’t really forced to up front,’’ 

Smith said. ‘‘On the other hand, could he have done others? Yes.’’

— AP writers JoAnn Loviglio in Philadelphia, Jim Suhr in St. Louis 

and Joe Biesk in Frankfort, Ky., contributed to this report.

Marion Daily Republican

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