Former New York professor convicted of 1982 ax murder of first wife

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A former economics professor was found guilty Monday of bashing an ax into his wife’s forehead after she found out he didn’t complete his Ph.D. four decades ago, New York prosecutors announced.

After a three-week trial, a Monroe County jury convicted James Krauseneck, 70, of second-degree murder for killing his wife, Cathleen Krauseneck, with an ax – and leaving their daughter, then 3, alone with her corpse.

“Today’s conviction proves that the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will never give up on securing justice for crime victims” said DA Sandra Doorley. “After Feb. 19, 1982, James Krauseneck moved away and went on with his life for 40 years. Cathleen did not have that privilege.” 

NEW YORK ECONOMIST’S TRIAL BEGINS FOR THE 1982 AX MURDER OF HIS WIFE

A combination of economist James Krauseneck's booking photo and a family portrait of him with his slain wife Cathleen and their daughter, Sara. Krauseneck was convicted Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, of murdering his first wife with an ax in 1982.

A combination of economist James Krauseneck’s booking photo and a family portrait of him with his slain wife Cathleen and their daughter, Sara. Krauseneck was convicted Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, of murdering his first wife with an ax in 1982.
(Facebook/Brighton Police Department)

In fact, Krauseneck went on to marry three more times before he was arrested at his vacation home in Arizona in 2019 for his first wife’s murder. 

The slaying, known as “the Brighton Ax Murder,” inspired the 2021 Netflix horror film “Things Heard & Seen.”

Krauseneck, who previously taught economics at Lynchburg College, in Virginia, initially told police that when he arrived home from work, he found the garage door open, glass on the floor and his wife dead with an ax protruding from her head. Their daughter was unharmed in another room.

James and Cathleen Krauseneck at their wedding in 1974.

James and Cathleen Krauseneck at their wedding in 1974.
(Facebook)

He picked up the little girl and rushed next door to a neighbor. After reinvestigating the case, police believe Krauseneck attacked his wife as she slept, using an ax from their garage, according to Law&Crime. 

NEW YORK MAN ACCUSED OF WIFE’S COLD-CASE AX MURDER 37 YEARS LATER

He went to work at the Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, near the Canadian border, leaving his daughter alone with her mother’s remains until he returned that evening.

The Rochester home where James Krauseneck and his wife Cathleen lived in 1982, when he smashed an ax into her forehead.

The Rochester home where James Krauseneck and his wife Cathleen lived in 1982, when he smashed an ax into her forehead.
(Fox Rochester)

The economist’s lawyers have denied that their client fought with his wife over his incomplete degree before her murder, and blamed police for not pursuing other leads. 

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Edward Laraby, a convicted rapist, confessed to the slaying of Cathleen Krauseneck and another woman before he died in prison.

Krauseneck faces up to life in prison.

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