Justice Swings Down: Man Convicted in 1982 Ax Murder of Wife After 4 Decades of Uncertainty

James Krauseneck got to live his life for years before being charged with the murder

Megan Ashley


James Krauseneck’s booking photo (Right) and Cathleen and John Krauseneck and daughter (Left) (Source)

On February 19, 1982, in Brighton, New York, when thirty-year-old Jim Krauseneck returned home from work. The house was quiet, and he couldn’t find his wife and three-year-old daughter. He went upstairs, and it was then that he discovered the body of his wife, twenty-nine-year-old Cathy, in their bed, covered in blood with an ax embedded in her body still.

He then went to his daughter’s room, where he found her alone and unharmed, picked her up, and ran to a neighbor’s house to call the police.

Detectives arrived and confirmed that Cathy was deceased. She had been hit once to the back of the head. She was still in her nightgown, and she appeared to have been sleeping when attacked.

Her husband had claimed he had left for work early that morning, and everyone in the home was still sleeping when he left.

An initial glance at the crime scene appeared to have been a robbery gone wrong. Valuables had been strewn about the home, but according to Jim, nothing seemed to be missing. The items also appeared to be a little too perfect. There were plastic garbage bags around some items, like this tea set that was found in the middle of the living room, with items appearing to be hastily gathered but ultimately abandoned.

Cathy’s wallet and purse had been dumped on the floor, but nothing was missing, and jewelry was still out in the open.

Cathy had no defensive wounds and hadn’t been sexually assaulted, which also confused detectives. What had been the motive?

Cathy was known as a bright and friendly person. She had a broad group of friends, and she was well-loved. No one knew of anyone who would have wanted Cathy to be hurt.

Jim Krauseneck became the lead suspect. However, there was no direct evidence at the time to connect him to the crime, and he wasn’t arrested at that time. The case would eventually go cold.

In 2015, the case was reopened. After Cathy’s murder, Jim moved from Brighton, and for forty years, he…