Marion Police identify cold case tied to Krajcir
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 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
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
“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
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
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