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Suspect In Cold Case Killing Takes Own Life In Ulster County As Police Close In, DA Says

Authorities said Jeremiah James Guyette took his own life after being interviewed by police in connection with the August 1994 cold case killing of East Greenbush resident Wilomeana "Violet"  Filkins.
Authorities said Jeremiah James Guyette took his own life after being interviewed by police in connection with the August 1994 cold case killing of East Greenbush resident Wilomeana "Violet" Filkins. Photo Credit: Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office

Nearly 30 years after an elderly New York woman was found bludgeoned to death inside her apartment, the cold case has finally been solved.

The Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday, Jan. 19, that Jeremiah James Guyette had been identified as the sole suspect in the murder of Wilomeana “Violet” Filkins.

Filkins was found dead in the living room of her East Greenbush home on Aug. 19, 1994. New York State Police and the East Greenbush Police Department spent the next two decades following up on tips and re-submitting evidence to the state crime lab in an attempt to find her killer, to no avail.

Then in 2019, investigators finally received a solid lead from a close acquaintance of Guyette that led them to Rosendale in Ulster County, roughly 70 miles south of East Greenbush.

Police conducted “extensive” interviews with his relatives, co-workers, and friends. When police tried to interview Guyette, he became defensive and quickly requested an attorney, according to prosecutors.

The following day, investigators learned that Guyette, age 43, had killed himself. He would have been 18 at the time of Filkins’ death.

After an autopsy was performed on his body, police sent his fingerprints and DNA to the New York State Police crime lab to compare it to evidence collected at the murder scene.

In 2021, investigators re-submitted to the crime lab an unknown fingerprint that had been found on Filkins’ coffee table. The print was a match with Guyette’s.

A relative also told police that Guyette had called her saying he didn’t want to go to prison and mentioned someone who had died, but didn’t want to talk anymore over the phone, NBC News reports.

“Each and every lead counts when investigating crime,” Rensselaer County District Attorney Mary Pat Donnelly said. “No matter how small the detail, it could be useful in an investigation. In this, all of those leads brought us to Jeremiah Guyette.”

Police believe Filkins, who lived alone, was killed during a daytime robbery two days before her body was discovered.

Her niece, Carol Filkins, thanked investigators during a press conference Thursday, remembering her aunt as a simple woman who lived quietly and “would never have envisioned what occurred.”

“We’re all very thankful that it has now been resolved.”

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