2 teens on vacation were killed 46 years ago. An 80-year-old is now under arrest

Virginia Beach police have accused an 80-year-old New York man of killing two teens in a case that's gone unsolved for 46 years.

Posted: Apr 11, 2019 1:40 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2019 1:40 PM

Virginia Beach police have accused an 80-year-old New York man of killing two teens in a case that's gone unsolved for 46 years.

The double homicide dates to 1973, when Janice Pietropola and Lynn Seethaler, both 19, traveled from the Pittsburgh area to Virginia Beach to vacation. They were found dead on June 30 inside their oceanfront motel cottage, and their deaths were ruled homicides, police said.

After an exhaustive investigation, the case went cold, police said. The cottage where the teens were slain was destroyed, then rebuilt into motels and shops.

Last fall, Virginia Beach Police cold case investigators, working with the local prosecutor, began to aggressively research a strong lead in the case, police said.

Police on Monday arrested the accused killer: Ernest Broadnax of New York. He was arrested in New York and charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of rape, police said. Broadnax is awaiting extradition, police said. It was not immediately clear if he had retained an attorney.

Michael Pietropola, brother of victim Janice Pietropola, said he felt "bittersweet" about the arrest. He is happy that justice may finally be served, but it also "opened up deep wounds that had been there since 1973."

"We hope through the trials and proceedings that we will get answers, answers that the police can't even give us right now," Pietropola said, "so we can get some closure, some rationalization of a crazy crime that took the lives of two beautiful teenagers."

Mostly, Pietropola said, he hopes to be able to make some sense of what happened in Virginia Beach in 1973.

"What was going through this guy's mind? What made him pick my sister and her friend? What drove him to this? Those are the questions that as a brother I would want for closure," Pietropola said.

Broadnax served three prison stints in New York for assault, burglary, and attempted burglary, records show. He was released on parole in 2013.

Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera declined to describe what led to Broadnax's arrest, other than saying it was "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."

Investigators, he said, just kept resubmitting pieces of evidence.

Eventually, that doggedness paid off.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 324537

Reported Deaths: 5594
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion44186858
Lake28094462
Allen18660301
Elkhart17663230
St. Joseph17256234
Hamilton13612170
Vanderburgh10028121
Tippecanoe896729
Porter855386
Johnson6718169
Hendricks6412158
Vigo625889
Monroe550450
Clark531078
Madison5239122
Delaware5075103
LaPorte481196
Kosciusko475941
Howard364177
Bartholomew335365
Warrick335372
Floyd329478
Wayne325678
Marshall311846
Cass303931
Grant287150
Hancock272957
Noble264946
Henry256437
Boone255054
Dubois245631
Dearborn228231
Jackson226334
Morgan221243
Gibson194926
Knox193021
Shelby192656
Clinton185421
DeKalb183932
Lawrence183849
Wabash172821
Adams172422
Miami170815
Daviess163145
Fayette153734
Steuben153414
Jasper151713
Montgomery149327
Harrison147624
LaGrange146131
Ripley145815
Whitley142314
Huntington133510
Decatur132543
Putnam131128
White131022
Wells130130
Clay130023
Randolph128121
Posey125816
Jefferson124116
Scott114520
Greene106053
Sullivan102716
Jay101913
Starke95022
Jennings90414
Spencer8908
Fulton87519
Perry85121
Fountain8228
Washington8127
Franklin73427
Carroll71913
Orange70028
Vermillion6607
Owen6468
Tipton60327
Parke6026
Newton57812
Rush5708
Blackford56612
Pike52719
Pulaski41815
Martin3705
Benton3643
Brown3574
Crawford3081
Union2782
Switzerland2655
Warren2562
Ohio2387
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 399808

Reported Deaths: 6346
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin52652672
Cuyahoga39132746
Hamilton31491372
Montgomery21355242
Butler15768149
Lucas15301420
Summit14667330
Stark9780209
Warren878777
Mahoning7985301
Lake752566
Lorain7149106
Clermont622953
Delaware597337
Licking589977
Trumbull5867148
Fairfield576464
Greene559568
Clark5438129
Allen518389
Medina496557
Marion489359
Wood4861108
Miami456268
Pickaway410548
Portage385574
Columbiana376599
Tuscarawas360567
Richland349639
Wayne340894
Mercer299248
Muskingum262510
Hancock257240
Ross251259
Darke246160
Auglaize243935
Erie240868
Ashtabula240454
Putnam234549
Geauga227051
Union20838
Scioto204316
Lawrence201139
Shelby199917
Athens19984
Seneca192919
Belmont176729
Madison172019
Sandusky166429
Huron163022
Preble162521
Defiance149923
Holmes146939
Knox139719
Logan139018
Jefferson138113
Fulton135826
Crawford134417
Washington133427
Ottawa128830
Ashland117328
Williams11479
Clinton113115
Highland108118
Brown10755
Hardin107019
Henry105423
Champaign10535
Jackson102012
Van Wert99918
Fayette97317
Guernsey96814
Morrow9682
Coshocton91015
Perry86613
Adams83813
Gallia81615
Pike7921
Wyandot76118
Paulding70012
Hocking68516
Noble65124
Carroll53210
Meigs41712
Monroe34921
Morgan2925
Harrison2433
Vinton2326
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 33°
Angola
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 29°
Huntington
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 35°
Decatur
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 31°
Van Wert
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Warm Sunday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events