Husband of woman murdered with an ax convicted 40 years after her death
▶ Watch Video: Sneak peek: The Brighton Ax Murder
On a wintery night near Rochester, New York, retired Detective Marc Liberatore shows “48 Hours” how he helped bring one of the coldest cases in America to trial. On Feb. 19, 1982, police officers arrived at the Brighton home of Jim and Cathy Krauseneck and encountered a horrific scene.
The body of a 29-year-old mother Cathy Krauseneck dead in bed with an ax lodged in her head.
Det. Mark Libertore: It was a single blow to the head. And she died instantly according to the medical examiner.
Jim Krauseneck told police he arrived home from work and found his wife’s body. His 3-and-a-half-year-old daughter Sara was there and unharmed. Minutes later, he showed up at his neighbor’s house — seemingly traumatized — with Sara in his arms. The neighbor called 911 after Jim told her he thought Cathy was dead.
NEIGHBOR TO 911: Her husband’s here and he can’t even talk.
911 DISPATCHER: OK. I’ll have someone right over there …
Dispatch immediately sent first responders. Brighton Police Lieutenant Bill Flood arrived to get a statement from Krauseneck.
Det. Bill Flood: He was moaning, he was crying.
Krauseneck, a Kodak company economist, said he’d left for work that morning at the usual time – around 6:30 a.m. He said he’d been gone all day. Cathy had planned to stay home to take care of Sara.
Det. Bill Flood: You could tell that little girl had been left alone … it looked obvious to us that she had dressed herself.
It seemed obvious to Detective Flood that Sara was confused about what had happened. Sara said she’d seen a “bad man … sleeping in mommy and daddy’s bed with an ax in his head.” Asked if the man was black or white, she said he was “many colors.” But Flood thinks Sara hadn’t seen a man at all; that it was her mother in bed, covered with blood.
Gary Craig: And what does a 3-and-a-half-year-old do?
Gary Craig reports for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Gary Craig: The murder in and of itself is baffling and hard to believe … But you add this element where Cathy’s daughter has been left in the house … with her murdered mother … It’s inconceivable that somebody could do that.
Liberatore and his partner Steve Hunt of the Brighton Police Department, say the first investigators at the scene found no significant forensic clues like fibers or fingerprints. And in 1982, DNA had not yet become an investigative tool. But there was something about the scene that struck them immediately. It looked like someone had pushed the pause button on a burglary.
Det. Steve Hunt: And there was a door leading into the house that had a pane of glass broken out and there was a maul, which is like a heavier ax, on the ground leaning up against the wall right next to that.
The ax found at the door, and the one in Cathy’s head, both belonged to the Krausenecks. In the dining room, there were valuable items scattered.
Det. Steve Hunt: And on the floor was Cathy’s purse, with the contents … strewn about.
There was a tea set on the floor, too.
Det. Steve Hunt: Everything was standing straight up like it was set there neatly.
And a black garbage bag next to it. Inside, was a faint shoe print as if someone had stepped in it to hold it open. But despite many apparent signs of a burglary, Liberatore and Hunt say the most important one was missing.
Det. Steve Hunt: Nothing was taken.
Det. Mark Liberatore: There’s an officer involved in this case from the 1980’s … who hits the nail on the head: We in Brighton do not handle a lot of homicides. We do handle a lot of burglaries … And this was not a burglary.
Investigators suspected the burglary was simply staged to cover up the real crime — Cathy’s murder — and they began to focus on her husband.
Gary Craig: Let’s face it, I mean, more often than not … it’s the husband, it’s domestic … so police are going to go there.
But could Jim Krauseneck have committed such a brutal murder and left his baby daughter alone in that house? “48 Hours” spoke to friends and family who said the couple had seemed happy.
Cathy and Jim had grown up in the same small town in Michigan, but on opposite sides of the tracks. Cathy’s father was a trucker; Jim’s owned a successful carpet store. They met in high school, began dating in college, and married after graduation.
Susie Jackimowicz: It was a fancy wedding.
Cathy’s cousin Susie was just a kid.
Susie Jackimowicz: Like a princess wedding kinda deal. Jim was pursuing an economics degree in Colorado when they had Sara in 1978.
Cathy Behe: She was just so excited about her daughter, just so excited about her.
Cathy Krauseneck’s friend, Cathy Behe, says she was a warm soul who lived for love, but remembers feeling that the last time they saw each other – just six months before the murder – something just didn’t seem right.
Cath Behe: Not the vivacious Cathy that I remembered.
Erin Moriarty: What was the next thing you heard?
Cathy Behe: I got a call from my sister, and she told me about Cathy being murdered.
If Cathy and Jim were having trouble, they kept it to themselves. But police grew suspicious when they discovered a pamphlet in the couple’s car that offered services including marriage counseling. And there was more. When they went to Kodak, they learned that Jim Krauseneck had gotten his job under false pretenses, claiming to have a Ph.D. when he’d never actually completed the program. There was also Krauseneck’s behavior. Newspaper reporter Gary Craig says initially, he was cooperative.
Gary Craig: He was willing early on to give statements.
Krauseneck had spoken to investigators that night and the next morning, even agreeing to another meeting that afternoon. But when the time came …
Gary Craig: He was gone.
Erin Moriarty: Less than 24 hours after he found his wife murdered?
Gary Craig: Yes.
Krauseneck’s parents had driven from Michigan and returned there with Jim and Sara. Police say Jim left town without telling them.
Det. Mark Liberatore: I wouldn’t consider it normal … but this is America and he’s free to do so.
When Rochester authorities followed them to Michigan, Krauseneck continued answering their questions and even provided hair and blood samples. Ten days after the murder, he hired a lawyer.
By this point, police were focused squarely on Jim Krauseneck. But they had a problem. They needed to establish exactly when the murder had happened. Had Jim even been home at the time? Remember, he told police he left for work at about 6:30 a.m.
Gary Craig: Back in 1982, the time of death gave a very broad range. And the science was that you really could not pinpoint.
Autopsy findings reportedly narrowed the time of death to between 4:30 a.m. and as late as 7:30 a.m. — an hour after Krauseneck claimed to have left the house. With no direct evidence against him, nor any clear motive, authorities didn’t want to try their luck with a jury. The investigation went cold.
Krauseneck and Sara eventually moved out west. He would briefly wed twice more before marrying his current wife, Sharon, 23 years ago — Never dreaming that his past would come looking for him.
A SURPRISE VISIT
In 1997, Sharon James ran into Jim Krauseneck, an old friend, at a trade show when sparks flew.
Sharon Krauseneck: And he asked me out. And from then on, for two years, we dated.
They both lived near Seattle. Krauseneck and his daughter Sara had moved there 10 years earlier but couldn’t leave the past behind.
Sharon Krauseneck: He was devastated with the death of Cathy.
Sharon says Jim told her about Cathy’s 1982 murder but didn’t offer details.
Sharon Krauseneck: And I didn’t want to pry because he would start getting emotional.
Erin Moriarty: What was it that made you fall in love with him?
Sharon Krauseneck: Jim is … so honest. He’s so loving … I wanted to be a part of his family.
They married in 1999.
Erin Moriarty: You like to spend a lot of time together?
Sharon Krauseneck: Oh, absolutely. … people will say we call each other everything but our names. We’ll call each other lovey-dovey, honey … and they say well, you act like newlyweds.
As the years rolled by, Sharon had no idea that more than 2,000 miles away in Rochester N.Y., someone else would set her sights on Jim Krauseneck: Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley.
DA Sandra Doorley: Cathy really needed to have justice.
In 2015, the FBI had provided resources to help Brighton police with their investigation.
Det. Steve Hunt: I mean you look at all those boxes of paperwork and evidence. … It’s daunting.
Detectives Mark Liberatore and Steve Hunt of the Brighton Police Department took the lead. Pouring over the file, they, too, became convinced the evidence pointed to one person: Jim Krauseneck. So, on April 16, 2016 …
Sharon Krauseneck: We were just having a lazy Saturday morning. And then all of the sudden, the doorbell rang.
DET. MARK LIBERATORE: Hi. … Mark Liberatore, how are you?
Erin Moriarty: You wanted to surprise him?
Det. Mark Liberatore: Yes.
Det. Steve Hunt: Absolutely.
DET. STEVE HUNT: You’re probably a little bit surprised why we’re here.
Erin Moriarty: Did Jim at that point think maybe I’d better call a lawyer?
Sharon Krauseneck: No, no not at all.
On the contrary. She says her husband welcomed them in and allowed them to record the conversation:
JIM KRAUSENECK: Hopefully you’ve got some good news.
DETECTIVE: We just want to kind of revamp everything, go through everything again with you.
She says they sat around the kitchen table talking for more than an hour.
Sharon Krauseneck (upbeat): They said … “we think we know who killed Cathy and we need your help.” And in that type of a tone.
DET. STEVE HUNT: I’m sure you think about this, “who could possibly have done this?”
JIM KRAUSENECK: I did, for a long time.
But then, Sharon says, detectives Liberatore and Hunt suddenly turned up the heat.
DET. MARK LIBERATORE: Did you have anything to do with this?
JIM KRAUSENECK: I didn’t kill Cathy.
DET. MARK LIBERATORE: I disagree.
JIM KRAUSENECK: Well then —
DET. MARK LIBERATORE: I think you did.
Det. Steve Hunt: You could see his heart pounding through his shirt.
Erin Moriarty: That would be a very scary thing … that somebody is accusing you of killing someone.
Det. Mark Liberatore: I would say scary … if you did it.
Erin Moriarty: Was that the first time then you started hearing details of what happened to Cathy?
Sharon Krauseneck: Yes
Sharon says it also was the first time she’d heard any suggestion that her husband was involved.
Erin Moriarty: Did you ever ask him point-blank?
Sharon Krauseneck: No, I didn’t. I didn’t have to.
Erin Moriarty: You didn’t have to know?
Sharon Krauseneck: No … I know. I know he did not murder his wife.
Erin Moriarty: Sharon, how can you be so sure? You only have Jim’s word for it.
Sharon Krauseneck: No … When you’re married to a man, you know his heart and you know his soul. … Jim could never, Erin, never in this world do something so horrific.
Erin Moriarty: You know, somebody listening to you would say, you sound a little naive. Didn’t you have some doubts? Didn’t you want to know more?
Sharon Krauseneck: I — you can call me naive I suppose.
But she insists that no one who has known Jim Krauseneck as well as she has — for as long as she has — could possibly have doubts.
Sharon Krauseneck: No, I’m not going to question him. I don’t doubt for a moment he was innocent.
But the detectives still hoped to find what investigators 40 years ago were never able to find: a smoking gun that tied Jim Krauseneck to the Brighton ax murder.
DA Sandra Doorley: You have to remember, back in 1982, there was no such thing as DNA testing. So, my first thought was, y’know, what can we test? … Are we going to find someone else’s DNA on any item within the home?
Det. Mark Liberatore: We sent … the evidence from ’82 back to the FBI lab.
The results: there was no DNA evidence that directly tied Krauseneck to the crime, but none tying anyone else to the murder, either. And although DNA evidence can degrade over time …
DA Sandra Doorley: The most important thing was finding the absence of someone else’s DNA within that home.
But to charge Jim Krauseneck, they wanted to prove his wife had died before had he gone to work. Jim claimed to have left the house at around 6:30 a.m., and Cathy had been fine.
Det. Mark Liberatore: We need a definitive time of death.
Back in 1982, the medical examiner was unable to narrow the time of death enough and, since then, other experts have agreed with her. In 2018, prosecutors turned to Dr. Michael Baden.
For over 50 years, Baden — a forensic pathologist — has been hired to work on a “who’s who” of whodunnit cases, from the assassination of JFK to the reported suicide of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, often raising eyebrows and generating controversy.
In this case, using the same file from 1982, Baden said in his analysis, it appeared Cathy died at about 3:30 a.m. That would be hours before Jim Krauseneck said he left for work that day.
DA Sandra Doorley: You know, some people may say that we were looking … for an opinion.
Erin Moriarty: That you were just looking for somebody who would pick a time of death that was before Krauseneck left the house in order to secure an indictment.
DA Sandra Doorley: Absolutely.
Erin Moriarty: But if, in fact, Dr. Baden had agreed with the other medical examiners … would you have hired him?
DA Sandra Doorley: Absolutely not.
Armed with Dr. Baden’s opinion on Cathy’s time of death, along with what they believe is evidence of a staged burglary, prosecutors went before a grand jury. Jim Krauseneck was indicted on Nov. 1, 2019. He voluntarily surrendered to authorities a week later.
Erin Moriarty: Do you have any doubt about Jim Krauseneck’s guilt in his wife’s murder?
DA Sandra Doorley: I have absolutely no doubt.
Erin Moriarty: None?
DA Sandra Doorley: None, whatsoever.
But Jim Krauseneck’s attorneys say there’s a mountain of doubt in this case because Jim Krauseneck is not the Brighton ax murderer.
Bill Easton: There was someone who could be responsible for it.
A serial predator had been living in the neighborhood who actually confessed to killing Cathy.
ED LARABY: CAREER CRIMINAL
Attorneys Bill Easton and Michael Wolford are trying to save James Krauseneck.
Bill Easton: There really is no evidence that Jim Krauseneck killed his wife. … He is the most reserved, humble, gentle person.
A man both believe had zero motive for murder.
Michael Wolford: They had a wonderful relationship. They had a wonderful family.
And so, his lawyers insist that Feb. 19, 1982, was a typical morning, in a home defined by love, until a stranger slipped in and took it all away.
Bill Easton: Jim Krauseneck went to work … someone came in and killed Cathy Krauseneck. We think that someone was Ed Laraby.
Ed Laraby — a monster just down the road.
Gary Craig | Reporter: He was just a violent son of a gun and terrible, terrible human being.
From Rochester’s back streets to New York’s toughest prisons, Ed Laraby had a reputation and record as a violent sexual predator.
Michael Wolford: Laraby hunted women. … He was a psychopath.
Before dying in prison in 2014, Laraby was locked up for a total of 32 years on charges that ultimately included attempted murder, robbery and his sick specialty — rape. But all too often, Laraby was released back on the streets.
Rachel Rear: And every time he was free, he would rape again. … He liked to laugh at women and humiliate them.
Erin Moriarty: You probably know as much about Ed Laraby as anyone.
Rachel Rear: I think so.
Erin Moriarty: Right?
Rachel Rear: Yeah.
Rachel Rear wrote “Catch the Sparrow,” a harrowing story, painfully close to home.
Rachel Rear: It’s about the murder of my stepsister in 1991.
Stephanie Kupchynsky, 27, was a music teacher and violinist when her life tragically intersected with Ed Laraby’s.
Rachel Rear: It’s mind-boggling to me that he was ever free.
In 1991, freshly paroled after serving a sentence for robbery, Laraby had come back to the suburbs of Rochester … his familiar hunting ground.
Rachel Rear: He got the job at Newcastle apartment complex which is where my stepsister lived. … Laraby himself said that they were foolish to hire him.
It wasn’t long before Stephanie went missing.
Rachel Rear: It was like she evaporated.
LOCAL NEWS REPORT: Stephanie Kupchynsky’s death rattled many when she disappeared from her apartment in 1991. Her remains found 7 years later.
The remains of Stephanie Kupchynsky lay scattered in a shallow stream bed. She had been strangled.
More than a dozen years later, Laraby, by then convicted of other crimes and back in prison, admitted he was her killer.
Erin Moriarty: What made him confess to Stephanie’s murder?
Rachel Rear: What ultimately made him confess was that he was dying.
Laraby, who was suffering from ALS, came up with a bucket list of a dying man: pizza, sandwiches, and he was angling for an agreement to be buried off prison grounds. So, in 2012, Ed Laraby confessed.
Rachel Rear: He went into Stephanie’s apartment … And then she screamed … And then he choked her … And she died. And he confessed to killing her.
But Ed Laraby didn’t stop with Stephanie Kupchynsky.
Rachel Rear: Once he confessed to Stephanie’s murder and realized that he could get things in exchange for confession, all of a sudden then he started wheeling and dealing and making more deals.
Ed Laraby contacted the FBI claiming he was a serial killer, and one of the victims he listed was a Rochester housewife murdered on a February morning in 1982: 29-year-old Cathy Krauseneck.
Michael Wolford: Laraby lived very close by … And she was someone that he was going to prey on.
The idea that decades earlier Ed Laraby might have murdered Cathy doesn’t come as a surprise to investigators and those who know him best.
Det. Mark Liberatore: Everybody from back in that time frame is familiar with Ed.
Rachel Rear: He would’ve been out of prison at the time that Cathy was killed.
Free, violent and just down the road. Police went to question him, shortly after Cathy’s murder. But Ed Laraby wasn’t talking back then. They filed their report, and then backed off.
Erin Moriarty: And is it fair to say the police dropped the ball in that case? … Because you’ve got a sexual predator within minutes of the house and they … they don’t do anything more than visit him once?
Gary Craig: Oh, I think it’s very fair to say that. … To have apparently ignored Ed Laraby in 1982, whether he did or didn’t do it, is clearly — was just a major lapse in the investigation.
Det. Mark Liberatore: I don’t know that I’d used the phrase drop the ball … And unfortunately … the officer and the sergeant who approved that report are both deceased.
Still, the FBI and detectives Liberatore and Hunt don’t believe Ed Laraby murdered Cathy.
Det. Steve Hunt: He was a bad man, he was.
Erin Moriarty: That’s one way to put it.
Det. Mark Liberatore: He’s a bad man, but he’s not our bad man.
Erin Moriarty: This is a guy who has a long history of hurting women and he’s confessing to killing Cathy Krauseneck.
Det. Steve Hunt: Yeah, but his confession —
Det. Mark Liberatore: Inappropriately —
Det. Steve Hunt: — was way off base.
Det. Mark Liberatore: — way off.
Erin Moriarty: Why are you so sure it’s not Edward Laraby?
DA Sandra Doorley: Because his confession didn’t match up to the facts, as simple as that.
Laraby said Cathy had dark hair when in fact she was blonde, that she was heavyset when she wasn’t. Even Rachel Rear, who knows all too well the damage Laraby can do, doesn’t believe he killed Cathy.
Rachel Rear: To me, I was like, it’s not his M.O. … I don’t think he was a serial killer. He’s a serial rapist.
After four decades of dead ends, law enforcement was convinced that Jim Krauseneck, not Ed Laraby, wielded that bloody ax.
Sharon Krauseneck: This man is an innocent man. … He’s been treated so unjust.
But come 2022, James Krauseneck, the successful businessman and father, headed to trial. The 40-year-old murder case could hinge on mere minutes, and prosecutors proving that Krauseneck was home when Cathy was killed.
PROSECUTOR PATRICK GALLAGHER (closing argument): You look at the evidence, it’s clear. She was killed in her sleep.
WHAT TIME DID CATHY DIE?
After four decades, as James Krauseneck finally came to trial, prosecutors were betting on Michael Baden, that forensic pathologist they had engaged, and his theory of when Cathy most likely died — about 3:30 a.m.
Michael Wolford: Well, they needed a Dr. Baden, who said basically that it happened at 3:30 in the morning. … That was different than any other medical examiner that was involved in this case.
One of them was Katherine Maloney, a forensic pathologist who would testify for the defense — something she had seldom done before.
Erin Moriarty: Can you pinpoint the actual time of death?
Dr. Katherine Maloney: No. Oh my goodness I wish I could … The best you’re going to do is — is a window of several hours.
Doctor Maloney thinks it’s possible Cathy could have died much later in the day.
Erin Moriarty: I mean, so you’re saying Dr Baden is wrong?
Dr. Katherine Maloney: I disagree with him. I think he’s wrong. … I think she likely died sometime between like 5 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Timing of the death seemed crucial. If Cathy was murdered in the dead of night, before Jim Krauseneck went to work, then prosecutors say her killer wasn’t an intruder — it had to be her husband.
The stage was set for a gruesome drama in search of its final act.
NEWS REPORT: What makes this case so unique is it happened over 40 years ago.
Over those decades, hearts had been broken and relationships shattered.
Erin Moriarty: Really, how would you describe the last 40 years on your family?
Susie Jackimowicz: It’s been a terrible … It’s just god-awful.
Cousin Susie Jackimowicz witnessed the shift in Cathy’s now 95-year-old father Bob Schlosser — who today believes Krauseneck is a killer, but for years was certain his son-in-law was innocent.
Bob Schlosser: I just didn’t think that he would — that he would do such a thing.
Erin Moriarty: I mean, had there ever been a real serious problem in their marriage that anybody had heard of?
Bob Schlosser: No, not that I knew of.
But investigators believe the marriage was secretly crumbling.
Det. Mark Liberatore: He snapped is what we believe. He just snapped.
Erin Moriarty: People look at Jim Krauseneck, he just doesn’t look like an ax murderer.
Bob Schlosser: What’s an ax murderer look like?
Schlosser believes that over time, Krauseneck began separating Sara from her mother’s family — the child who was home when her mother was murdered.
Bob Schlosser: We didn’t see Sara anymore.
Susie Jackimowicz: Not only was Cathy taken away, Sara was taken away.
Sara’s a grown woman now, firmly standing by her dad as sure that he’s innocent, as prosecutors Constance Patterson and Patrick Gallagher are certain he’s Cathy’s killer.
Prosecutor Patrick Gallagher: No doubt at all.
Prosecutor Constance Patterson: Absolutely no doubt in my mind.
But as the trial moved forward, lawyers on both sides confessed they had a daunting challenge: time itself.
Patrick Gallagher: Dealing with — with memory issues, dealing with deceased witnesses.
Bill Easton: Witnesses can’t recall what happened 40 years ago.
So, investigators pursued evidence that didn’t rely on the frailties of memory. They homed in on the physical crime scene.
Prosecutor Patrick Gallagher: I wanted to not only prove that that Cathy was clearly killed in the early morning hours, but also prove that it was a staged burglary.
Det. Steve Hunt: There’s a lot of questions and things just didn’t make sense.
Authorities argued the scene was staged by someone who had no idea what a burglary looked like.
Det. Steve Hunt: The house wasn’t ransacked.
Det. Mark Liberatore: In fact, there was cash on the dresser in the room where Cathy was killed, that wasn’t taken.
The broken glass, the seemingly precise placing of that maul.
Det. Steve Hunt: They wanted us to believe that the maul was used to break that pane of glass.
That silver tea set, barely disturbed.
Patrick Gallagher: And when you looked at the pieces that don’t fit, the reason they don’t fit is because it was a staged burglary.
Then there was that faint shoeprint investigators found inside a garbage bag. Prosecutors thought the print told a story.
Patrick Gallagher: The only way that gets in there is when the bag is being opened, when items are being placed in that bag.
Erin Moriarty: And somebody is putting their foot on there, so they can hold it open?
Patrick Gallagher: So … You’re stepping on the edge of that bag … you’re holding one edge and you’re placing that silver in the bag.
Investigators say the print was from special footwear: a boat shoe.
Erin Moriarty: And why a boat shoe?
Patrick Gallagher: And, so, there’s a picture in that bedroom where you can see next to the bed … You can see these boat shoes.
Erin Moriarty: And whose shoes are those?
Patrick Gallagher: And those are James Krauseneck’s shoes.
Det. Steve Hunt: He’s a boat shoe wearing guy, and we don’t have murderers running around in February in the wintertime wearing boat shoes and killing people.
But the shoes Krauseneck wore back then were not tested to see if they were a match. And his lawyers say it’s not just the wrong theory — it’s the wrong man.
They say it’s Ed Laraby, that career criminal, who, before he died, had confessed to killing Cathy.
Bill Easton: He lives four-minute walk away.
But there’s the problem of Laraby’s M.O. Remember, he was a repeat sex offender.
Erin Moriarty: Was there any sign that Cathy had been sexually assaulted or that she had had any contact at all with her killer?
Det. Mark Liberatore: None whatsoever.
Erin Moriarty: Do you believe that there was tunnel vision in this investigation?
Bill Easton: I think it would almost be the dictionary definition of tunnel vision … There was this overwhelming … urge and desire to solve the crime, and it had to be Jim Krauseneck.
Susie Jackimowicz: I know he did it. I know it was him.
Come closing statements, cameras were allowed into the courtroom as lawyers made their final pleas:
BILL EASTON: The mystery of Cathy Krauseneck’s death remains to this day, and we submit it has not been resolved by this trial.
PATRICK GALLAGHER: Common sense tells you this was a staged burglary. … Those are the only reasonable inferences that can be drawn from this case.
BILL EASTON: There are no eyewitnesses. There are no earwitnesses. … There is no direct evidence. That was the case 40 years ago and that’s the case now.
But Gallagher reminded the jury of that time-stamp — 3:30 a.m. — that pathologist Michael Baden put as Cathy’s possible time of death.
PATRICK GALLAGHER: Common sense tells you she died early that morning.
Michael Wolford: As we said at the outset, there is no new evidence, simply a new opinion by Dr. Baden. … We don’t think that cuts it.
Forty years after that awful day, the case would now go to a jury.
Erin Moriarty: Were you worried?
Sharon Krauseneck: I was worried, yes. … And Jim being the husband … and that’s being the typical fall guy, the husband must have done it. … I was very fearful.
A JURY DECIDES
Jim Krauseneck’s fate will be determined by 12 strangers.
Sharon Krauseneck: They want to hold someone accountable for this … I was very fearful.
Because it’s Sharon and Sara’s future as well.
Sharon Krauseneck: On Friday night. The jury hadn’t finished their deliberations. And I was so thankful. I thought, “Oh … give us this weekend (cries).
Erin Moriarty: Did you think this could be the last weekend you could spend with him?
Sharon Krauseneck: I think deep down, I probably did.
Altogether, it takes the jury less than 10 hours of deliberations to reach a verdict: Jim Krauseneck is guilty of second-degree murder.
Sharon Krauseneck: I remember standing up. I saw this one deputy across from me and I said, “Oh, please … let me hug my husband. … he said “no.” No … I can’t.
BOB SCHLOSSER (to reporters outside courtroom) We got our justice. It took 40 years. … Thank God, we got it.
SHARON KRAUSENECK (walking through court lobby with Sara): He’s innocent. He’s innocent!
Michael Wolford: Unfortunately, there is a presumption of guilt. … if the husband is … living in the home and the wife is killed … he’s almost presumed guilty,
Defense attorney Michael Wolford says that Jim Krauseneck was convicted because of who he was, not what he did.
Michael Wolford: I think there was a gut reaction on the part of the jurors, that “well, he probably did it.”
But the jurors “48 Hours” spoke to insisted they decided this case on the evidence — evidence they admit had divided them at the start.
Jane | Juror: I just kept thinking someone else really could have done this.
Helen | Juror: The forensics did not point to anybody else.
The first time they voted, we were told six said guilty, three not guilty, three undecided.
Ivan | Juror: The most important thing to me … was the staged burglary scene.
They said that staged scene was a critical clue. And there was something else they seemed to agree on. That, in the end, it was impossible to say exactly when Cathy died.
Jane: We threw out all of that testimony … We — It meant nothing to us.
But their verdict means everything to Krauseneck’s heartbroken daughter Sara, who tells the judge at sentencing it adds insult to deep injury.
SARA KRAUSENECK (in court): I’ve been blessed with the most extraordinary parents. Sadly, they have both been taken from my life. My mother’s killer got away with her murder, and my father’s life has been taken by a failed justice system that convicted him of a crime he did not commit.
But Sara’s grandfather — Cathy’s father — wants to make sure Jim Krauseneck spends the rest of his life paying for her death.
BOB SCHLOSSER (to Jim Krauseneck in court): And Jim, I hope you live to be 100 years old and enjoy your new home!
And finally, it’s up to Jim Krauseneck himself to take one last opportunity to address the court.
JIM KRAUSENECK (in court): To this day it’s still very difficult for me to talk about the circumstances that surrounded her death. All I see is Cathy with an ax in her head, and Sara standing in the hallway, disheveled, with an empty and distant look on her face. I did not murder Cathy. I loved Cathy with all my heart and with all my soul.
The judge is unmoved, giving the 71-year-old Krauseneck 25 years-to-life behind bars.
Before his own life is over, there’s one more thing Cathy’s father wants to do.
For decades, Cathy has been buried in Jim’s family plot.
Bob Schlosser: I want to move my daughter’s remains … where her mother and brother are.
But to move her, Bob Schlosser needs Sara to agree and that may never happen. Sara and Sharon continue to support Jim, who intends to appeal his conviction.
Erin Moriarty: You’re going to stand by him no matter what?
Sharon Krauseneck: Oh, absolutely.
Sharon Krauseneck rejects the possibility that her husband has permanently traded his golden years for the hardened metal of a prison cell.
Sharon Krauseneck: We have a lot of hope. We have a lot of faith. … This is not our retirement. This is a hiccup. This is just a — just a — a pause.
And Krauseneck’s lawyers say that forcing him to defend a 40-year-old case violated his constitutional right to a fair trial.
Erin Moriarty: Are you worried at all about that … if an appellate court ruled in favor … of Jim Krauseneck, and said that his rights had been violated … then it would all be for nothing?
DA Sandra Doorley: It wouldn’t be all for nothing. Cathy’s story was able to be told and that family was able to get justice … Justice has been done for Cathy.
Cathy’s family and Sara haven’t spoken since the trial.
Sara has moved out of the country.
Produced by Josh Yager and James Stolz. Marc Goldbaum and Charlotte Fuller are the development producers. Michael Loftus and Liz Caholo are the associate producers. Richard Barber is the producer-editor. Atticus Brady is also an editor. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.