Husband charged in 1982 ax killing of wife; chief calls it one of ‘worst outcomes of domestic violence’

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Decades after a young mom was found dead in her upstate New York home with an ax in her head, her husband was arrested for second-degree murder.

Brighton Police Department Chief Charles David Catholdi called the crime "one of the worst outcomes of domestic violence this agency has investigated."

On the evening of Feb. 19, 1982, police responded to a 911 call from a neighbor. Officers were led to the home of James and Cathleen Krauseneck in the Rochester area, where 29-year-old Cathleen Krauseneck was found with a blow to her head from an ax, according to officials.

The crime was initially reported as a burglary, authorities said. The Krausenecks' 3-year-old daughter was home when her mother died, Catholdi said at a news conference Tuesday.

Police did not elaborate on what led to James Krauseneck's arrest decades later, but did say a "fresh look" with help from the FBI began in 2015.

Catholdi stressed there's no single piece of evidence that points to James Krauseneck, but investigators are looking at the totality of circumstances and the timeline.

DNA, fingerprints and the lack there of "can speak volumes," Catholdi said.

Catholdi also said investigators reexamined the timeline which he said proves James Krauseneck "was in the home at the time of the homicide."

An indictment was unsealed Friday. Krauseneck surrendered the same day and was charged with second-degree murder by way of a grand jury indictment, authorities said.

Defense attorney Michael Wolford in a statement Friday called the indictment a mistake.

"Jim’s innocence was clear 37 years ago; it’s clear today," he said. "At the end of the case, I have no doubt Jim will be vindicated."

Wolford said the Krausenecks' daughter, who was home at the time of the alleged crime, "has never doubted her father’s innocence."

"For the last 37 years, Jim has continued to contribute to society. At the time of his wife’s murder, Jim was an economist at Kodak Company and then afterward, had a successful career and retired as vice-president of a Fortune 500 company," Wolford said. Jim has cooperated in the investigation of his wife’s murder, repeatedly giving statements to the police, consenting to the search of his home and his car. It wasn’t until I became involved and it became evident that he was being targeted, that I placed some reasonable conditions on any further interrogation."

Krauseneck was 30 years old at the time of the alleged crime. Now 67 and living in Arizona, he was arraigned on Friday and released on $100,000 bail, Catholdi said.

The trial is scheduled to begin on June 2, prosecutors said.

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