LIFE

Two Teen Girls Were Murdered While On Vacation In 1973, Now DNA Has Led Cops To Their Killer

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

In 1973, two teen girls were found dead outside of their motel cottage at Virginia Beach. Janice Pietropola and Lynn Seethaler were both 19 at the time, and their deaths were ruled homicides.

The killer, however, was never found — until, perhaps, this month.

Virginia Beach police recently accused Ernest Broadnax, an 80-year-old man from New York, of murdering the two girls. They arrested him and charged him with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of rape.

All of this is happening 46 years after the initial crime. Police had initially done an exhaustive investigation, but then the case went cold, CNN reports. Investigators began to research a strong lead last fall.

So how did this lead to Ernest Broadnax? Why right now? Police Chief Jim Cervera says the new development is due to “an advancement in technology that wasn’t available X number of years ago. Most of the technology, as you know, that’s coming online wasn’t available 10 years ago.”

Over the years, investigators kept resubmitting pieces of evidence, Chief Cervera said. They found Broadnax through DNA.

Ernest Broadnax has previously served three prison sentences for assault, burglary, and attempted burglary in New York.

Four decades is a long time to wait for justice. Michael Pietropola is Janice’s brother; he says he has mixed feelings about the new arrest.

It “opened up deep wounds that had been there since 1973,” Michael said. “We hope through the trials and proceedings that we will get answers, answers that the police can’t even give us right now, so we can get some closure, some rationalization of a crazy crime that took the lives of two beautiful teenagers.”

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