New York police ID suspect in cold case murder of elderly woman with help from ex-girlfriend’s Netflix viewing

Officials in Upstate New York have identified the person they believe is responsible for the 1994 slaying of an 81-year-old woman in her home, but said justice will, unfortunately, not be served.

Jeremiah J. Guyette, the suspect linked to the death of Wilomeana “Violet” Filkins, took his own life in 2019, authorities said at a Thursday news conference.

Filkins was found dead on Aug. 19, 1994 in her East Greenbush apartment by her brother and niece after no one was able to reach her. She was killed two days earlier. She was found with several blows to the head, authorities said.

“She was a very simple woman, lived quietly and would have never envisioned what occurred,” Filkins’ niece, Carol, said.

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Wilomeana “Violet” Filkins, 81, was found dead in her New York apartment in 1994. Her alleged killer took his own life in 2019, authorities said Thursday.
(New York State Police)

DNA collected from Guyette after he died was linked to the killing after the sample matched a thumbprint found on a coffee table in Filkins’ suburban Albany apartment.

“Over the course of my career every time there was a changeover in our Detective bureau there was a promise made from one detective to another to never stop investigating this case in order to find justice for Violet and her family,” said East Greenbush Police Chief Elaine Rudzinski.

Guyette, who was 17 at the time of the killing, planned to steal a car and rob a bank to get money for college, police said. Three years after the murder, Filkins’ belongings were found several miles from the crime scene along a road, WNYT-TV reported.

Guyette, a Minnesota native, moved to East Greenbush to live with his father and graduated from Columbia High School in 1994, said East Greenbush police Detective Sergeant Michael Guadagnino. He enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at the then-Patrick Air Force Base south of Cape Canaveral.

After being discharged, he ended up in Rosendale where police interviewed him in 2019. At the time, he was driving a school bus and a bus for the elderly. During the interview, Guyette became defensive and visibly upset, Guadagnino said.

In 2019, an-ex girlfriend told police that Guyette made comments a decade earlier about an elderly lady, authorities said.

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“The ex-girlfriend that came forward really had never thought about the statements that Jeremiah had made to her,” Guadagnino said. “She was watching cold case homicides on Netflix, saw that and it sprung her attention. She started googling different stuff and saw that Jeremiah had lived in East Greenbush during the time of Violet’s murder, put two and two together and once we got that tip we were able to basically dissect Jeremiah’s life, the different places he lived and then run with that information.”

The next day, the New York State Police was called to Guyette’s apartment over reports of shot fired. He was found dead in his garage.