Ernest Broadnax is the eighty year old New York man who has been arrested for the rape and murder of two young women in Virginia Beach in 1973. Police say Broadnax murdered Lynn Seethaler and Janice Pietropola; they say Broadnax also raped Pietropola. Authorities have also said that Seethaler and Pietropola may have been the victims of a serial killer who was targeting attractive young women in Virginia Beach. The murder and rape of the two young women had gone unsolved for decades until, according to authorities, forensic evidence led them to investigate Broadnax.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pietropola & Seethaler Were Found Dead in a Vacation Cottage by the Atlantic Ocean on June 20, 1973
Janice Pietropola and Lynn Seethaler were nineteen years old when they were killed. The young women, both natives of Pittsburgh, had recently graduated from high school and had started their first full time jobs. Pietropola was editorial assistant for a financial magazine, and Seethaler was a secretary. The two had rented a vacation cottage together at Farrar’s Tourist Village, a small complex of vacation rentals in Virginia Beach.
But on June 30, the two women missed their checkout time. A motel employee went to check on them and found them dead. Police later said that Pietropola was raped, strangled and shot three times in the head. Seethaler was strangled, shot twice in the head and had her throat slashed with a broken wine bottle. Police said that a window screen had been removed, indicating that the attacker had gotten in through the window.
In 2018, a team of cold case detectives began following up on a “strong lead” connecting Broadnax to the case. He is now being held in a New York jail awaiting extradition to Virginia.
2. Broadnax Has a Long History of Arrests for Burglary, Assault and Weapons Possession
Broadnax was living in Hollis, Queens at the time of his arrest. His neighbors described the 80 year old as a “loner.” They also described his arrest as “peaceful.” Kevin Wallace, 60, one of Broadnax’s neighbors, told reporters that police brought Broadnax a bottle of water and led him away without cuffing him.
“They gave it to him, dressed him up, and he went quietly. He went very quietly,” Mr. Wallace said. “He knew he did it. They couldn’t find him, and all the sudden they found him.”
Police said Broadnax had been arrested at least 10 times in New York City since 1990, on charges of burglary, assault and weapons possession. They said he had served at least 10 years in state prison for some of those charges.
3. Broadnax Was Living in an Affordable Housing Facility for Veterans at the Time of His Arrest
Broadnax, 80, was arrested in his home in Queens, New York on Monday. He was living in an affordable housing facility for military veterans in Hollis, Queens. Authorities say cold case detectives starting following up on a lead in the fall of 2018 that seemed to connect Broadnax to the 1973 rape and murder of two young women in Virginia Beach.
On June 30, 1973, two young women from Pittsburgh — Janice Pietropola and Lynn Seethaler — were found dead in the Virginia Beach vacation cottage they’d rented. Pietropola was raped, strangled and shot three times in the head. Seethaler was strangled, shot twice in the head and had her throat slashed with a broken wine bottle.
4. Broadnax Told a Neighbor That He’d ‘Hurt Somebody’ in the Past
After his arrest, Broadnax’s neighbors told reporters that the 80 year old had been a recluse and a loner. One neighbor told the New York Post that Broadnax had hinted about having a dark past — but said Broadnax had never given him any details about his criminal history. “He told me he did something years ago, that he hurt somebody,” the 62-year-old neighbor said. “But he didn’t say anything about killing two people. Damn!”
5. At Least Eight Other Young Women Were Murdered in Virginia Beach & Police Said a Serial Killer Carried Out the Murders
Seethaler and Pietropola were found dead in their Virginia Beach cottage in 1973. Over the next twelve years, police say that at least eight other young women were found murdered in the oceanfront area of Virginia Beach. Other young women went missing from the area. Police said in 2011 that the rash of murders was likely the work of a serial killer. They said that although the murders were not all committed in the same way, the victims were all white, attractive young women between the ages of 18 and 25.
Police have not said whether they are charging Broadnax in the deaths of the other women murdered in Virginia Beach.