John W. Hopkins Accused of Joanne Pecheone’s Murderon February 12, 2011 in Serial Killers by Brian Combs
Nineteen-year-old Joanne Pecheone was walking home from school in East Utica the afternoon of January 12, 1972. She was later found having been raped and stabbed to death along a hilltop trail.
On Friday, nearly forty years later, Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara says that John W. Hopkins was responsible for her death. Hopkins died in jail of suicide in 2000.
He had been convicted of killing 17-year-old Genatiempo in 1976 and 17-year-old Sherrie Ann Carville in October 1978. He was arrested after kidnapping a 15-year-old girl in 1979. This girl survived the attack.
You can review all the evidence in McNamara’s complete statement, but here are the highlights:
Pecheone’s killer was seen by a 12-year-old boy snowmobiling the trail where she was killed. The boy says he came across a man crouching in the snow. He followed the man down to his car, where the man sped off. He then went back to where the man had been crouching, and discovered Pecheone’s body. He contacted police. The composite sketch created from his description was distinctive, and matches Hopkins’ high school yearbook photo. The description of the offender’s clothing also matches what the clothes Hopkins was known to wear.
A profile developed prior to Hopkins becoming a suspect matches Hopkins quite well.
There are significant matches in the M.O. between Pecheone’s killing and the attacks Hopkins was convicted of. Both Pecheone and Genatiempo were gagged, and both had had their bras cut up the front. Both Pecheone and the 15-year-old girl had their arms tied with a shoelace. Carville’s hands were also tied, although not with a shoelace.
While in jail awaiting trail, he told a corrections officer that he actually had committed three murders, but never identified the victim.
DNA was recovered from Pecheone’s clothing. While it is not a close enough match to Hopkins to show it’s him definitively, neither can it rule him out.
While this will never be tried due to Hopkins’ suicide, it does sound like it was probably him.