Murder suspect died in prison

AUSTINTOWN – Police did have a suspect in the murder of a woman whose partially nude body was found in 1992 but not identified until recently.

A former truck driver from Knoxville, Tenn., Dennis Hetzel, was charged in the death of the woman, who was identified on Sunday as Sharon Lynn Kedzierski, 43. Austintown detectives were able to get a secret indictment in December 1993 even though the woman’s identity was not yet known.

Tribune news partner Channel 33 News reported that investigators were able to match bite marks on Kedzierski’s body to Hetzel.

Police in the early 1990s were investigating a series of killings of women at truck stops but Hetzel was not considered a suspect in those killings.

Hetzel was extradited in 1995 to Texas, the television station reported, to be tried for the rape of his daughters, 5 and 7, of which he was convicted, because investigators thought they had a better chance of conviction there because of more witnesses.

He later died in prison.

Kedzierski’s body was found at the Interstate 80-state Route 46 interchange on April 9, 1992, by a woman walking her dog. She had been missing since October 1989 and was from Pembroke Pines, Fla.

An autopsy performed shortly after the discovery determined she died of blunt force injuries to the head and her death was ruled a homicide. Although fingerprints were submitted to the FBI, dental comparisons were made and composite sketches were distributed, no identification was made.

The connection was finally made in 2010, however, after coroner investigator Courtney Bouchie sent case information and DNA samples to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Kedzierski’s daughters had submitted their DNA to the system, which led to the match and identification.

Austintown police Chief Robert Gavalier said on Sunday that investigators do not know whether Kedzierski was killed in Austintown or if the body was dropped off at the truck stop.

“There were a number of bodies found at truck stops during that time,” he said.

Kedzierski’s case was one of a number of cold cases sent by Bouchie to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System in 2010.

In a missing-persons report, Kedzierski’s daughters identified her as having brown hair, blue eyes and scars or marks on her lower abdomen. According to reports, the Florida woman was 43 years old in 1989 when she last had contact with her family.

When the body was found, she was wearing a blue short-sleeve shirt, one white tube sock and men’s brief-style underwear. A gray baseball cap was found nearby as was a ladies tan, calf-length boot.

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System is a part of a larger program designed to help identify missing people through DNA technology. It uses experts on local, state and national levels.