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DA: Killer identified in 1972 Utica homicide

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The family of a murdered Utica teen finally has the answers that have eluded them for almost 40 years.

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara says a man named John Hopkins is the person who attacked, raped and murdered 19-year-old Joanne Pecheone.

DNA advances and investigative work lead police to the man, who is not from the area.

Joanne Pecheone was walking home from St. Francis School on January 12, 1972 when she was attacked and killed in the woods off of South Park Drive in east Utica.

Through the years, task forces were formed to track Pecheone's killer, but his identity was never revealed. In 2002, the Oneida County District Attorney's Office re-opened the case, hoping new scientific advances would help them solve it.

They made it their number one cold case priority, but the new science on which they hung their hopes failed to point to a suspect.

Officials say John Hopkins' DNA does match that left at the crime scene. They also say that Hopkins, who was convicted of murders elsewhere in the state, had confessed to an additional murder, but never divulged details.

While Joanne Pecheone's family has the answers they sought for 40 years, they won't see their daughter and sister's killer brought to justice.

Police say John Hopkins committed suicide in state prison in 2000.

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