SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Twenty-two years ago, Suzanne Nauman was a troubled 17-year-old living on the streets of Schenectady. She was addicted to cocaine, and dabbling in prostitution as a way to fund her habit.
On May 30, 1995, Suzanne was found dead near the edge of the driving range at Schenectady's Municipal Golf Course. Her bloodied body was almost entirely unclothed, and leaves and brush were stuffed in her mouth and throat to stifle her screams. A single shoelace was tied tightly around her neck, where it had been used to strangle her. Tellingly, there were human bite marks on each of her breasts.
At the time, then-Assistant District Attorney Robert Carney thought the case would be easily handled. It went unsolved for 22 years.
On Monday, Carney, the now-District Attorney, announced that the cold case had finally been cracked.
"We conclude," Carney declared Monday, "that Stanislaw Maciag murdered Suzanne Nauman on May 30th, 1995."
The story of the investigation is long and winding. It was initially aimed at Nauman's known boyfriend, Keith Gavreau. A fellow cocaine user, according to Carney, Gavreau was obsessive about his relationship with Nauman and threatened violence against the young woman and any man he found with her. Gavreau also pleaded guilty to a manslaughter in Schenectady around the same time.
Witness accounts about Gavreau's whereabouts on May 30, 1995 were inconsistent though, and a later DNA test absolved him of any connection to Suzanne Nauman's death.
Key evidence found at the scene seemed to exonerate Gavreau. A larger-framed man, he wore a size 11 shoe, but a lone sneaker found at the scene of Nauman's murder, from which the shoelace that strangled her was taken, measured in at size 8.5.
At that same time, a 37-year-old Polish immigrant with a criminal sexual assault record was living on Lansing Street in Schenectady. In 1996, Stanislaw Maciag would be arrested and charged for the murder of Phyllis Harvey. She was a known prostitute, who had also been strangled with a string. Maciag's shoe size was also 8.5.
While imprisoned for a probation violation in 1997, Stanislaw Maciag hung himself by a bedsheet in his cell.
"Before taking his own life, he reportedly told another inmate, 'I've done a lot of bad things and I have to pay,'" explained Carney.
Even after his death, Maciag would not be formally tied to Suzanne Nauman's death until 2016, when newly-analyzed DNA evidence from Nauman's fingernails was matched to several of Maciag's family members. County officials later exhumed Maciag's body and tested the DNA evidence against his remains. Even the bite profile of Maciag's corpse matched the teeth marks that had been found on Nauman's breasts the day she was discovered.
"This is an example of the value of cold case investigations," Carney said on Monday. "A murder is the ultimate insult to a community, and we should never forget any murder, of any individual."
Schenectady Police added a somber note to Monday's announcement: the department's longtime detective Roy Edwardsen had worked Nauman's case for much of his career, and even in retirement had tearfully told friends that he'd like to buy Nauman a proper headstone for her burial site, if her killer was ever found.
"Tragically, detective Edwardsen was killed in a motorcycle accident in June 2014," said Schenectady police chief Eric Clifford. "For that, we are sorry – that he will never know we were able to solve this."
Carney said on Monday that the surviving family members of Suzanne Nauman and Stanislaw Maciag have been made aware of the recent revelations. He did not share how any of those people reacted to the news.