Wanda Walkowicz, who is one of three victims of the Alphabet Murders or Double Initial Murders, was 11 years old when she was murdered. Her body was found at a rest area in Webster, New York, more than 45 years ago, and the person responsible for her death has yet to be brought to justice.
On the evening of April 2, 1973, Joyce Walkowicz needed items for dinner that night and decided it was her daughter Wanda’s turn to make the store run.
Therefore, she wrote out a list of what she needed from Hillside Delicatessen at 213 Conkey Avenue, gave it to her daughter, and sent her on her way.
As Wanda was walking out of her house at 132 Avenue D in Rochester, New York, she spotted three of her friends—two boys and a girl, all siblings.
They were also on their way to buy groceries, but they were going to a different corner store on the opposite street, according to 13 WHAM.
Wanda walked with them until they reached the corner of Conkey Avenue and Avenue D, and then she parted ways.
She continued walking on Conkey Avenue until she made it to Hillside Delicatessen. She went inside and purchased milk, bread, cigarettes, and diapers before leaving the store.
As she began walking home, her friends had also finished their grocery shopping and were walking ahead of her.
The children looked back and saw her walking behind them, struggling to carry her grocery bags, but they continued walking and didn’t wait for her because it was raining.
Not long after that, they saw a large, brown vehicle driving slowly in their direction. Moments after it passed them, they turned around, and it was gone—and so was Wanda.
When she didn’t return home that day, her mother reported her missing. Later that night, Joyce went into shock and had to be treated at Rochester General Hospital.
Law enforcement officers searched for Wanda in the surrounding areas, but when they realized her case was eerily similar to Carmen Colon’s, they began searching the roadsides as well.
Carmen was a 10-year-old girl from Rochester, New York, who was kidnapped and found murdered in a ditch on the side of the road in 1971.
WHEC reported that in an interview with News10NBC, Wanda’s teacher, Joseph Hillman, said, “I don’t think she was the kind of girl to get into the car with a stranger. I think she’s much too bright for this.”
New York State Police Investigator George Grbic stated that “Wanda was described as being street smart. It was probably someone she had some level of familiarity with.”
Richard Checchi, who was the clerk at the deli, told police that Wanda “seemed like a fairly intelligent girl and not the type to get into a car with any stranger.”
Checchi added that he would see the red-haired girl almost every night, and sometimes she would walk to the store twice after school.
At around 10:15 a.m. the following day, April 3, 1973, Wanda Walkowicz was found dead.
A state trooper, Thomas Zimmer, discovered her lying face down in the grass against a hill near a rest stop off Route 104 on the Webster side of the Irondequoit Bay Bridge.
Grbic stated that she was fully clothed, wearing “a multi-colored coat with a pattern on it. She was wearing a blue dress, a blue and white checkered dress, and then she was also wearing green shorts.”
He added that it appeared she had been redressed before she was placed at the scene.
Wanda’s body was transported to the state’s medical examiner’s office, where Joyce’s common-law husband, Paton Raney Jr., identified her body.
Joyce wasn’t able to attend, as she was hospitalized after finding out that her daughter had been found dead.
Dr. John F. Edland performed an autopsy, which revealed that Wanda Walkowicz’s cause of death was asphyxiation. She had been strangled to death, “possibly with a belt,” and she was also raped.
Edland told the Democrat and Chronicle that he “imagined she was raped and killed somewhere else, and the killer then put her clothes back on. It looks like she was tossed out of the car as the killer drove by.”
He added that Wanda had marks on her neck and body, which indicated that there was a struggle between her and her killer.
“She was such a tiny little thing. I don’t think she was capable of putting up much of a struggle,” Edland said.
Grbic stated that the groceries and the cigarettes that Wanda was carrying at the time of her disappearance have never been found.
He said, “The brand of cigarettes is Pall Mall. If the killer did get rid of the other grocery items, I would think maybe those cigarettes; there’s a chance they might have used at least the cigarettes.”
“That’s another thing somebody might remember. Somebody is smoking an off-brand cigarette.”
A few nights before Wanda Walkowicz was killed, she and another girl were walking near the train tracks that ran parallel to Conkey Avenue when a man, who had been hiding in a bush, began chasing them.
They ran home and alerted police, but by the time officers arrived, he was gone.
Nearly five decades later, investigators are still uncertain if he is the same man who kidnapped, raped, and murdered Wanda.
Although a partial palm print was found on her neck and traces of semen were found on her body, no arrests have been made in connection to Wanda’s death, and her murder remains a cold case.
Anyone with information regarding the unsolved murder of Wanda Walkowicz is encouraged to contact the New York State Police at (585) 398-4100 or send an email to email@example.com.