A.G. Schneiderman Announces Murder Indictment In 1979 Lackawanna Cold Case Homicide

Joint Investigation With New York State Police Results In Grand Jury Indictment In 34-Year-Old “Good Friday Holy Cross Cemetery” Murder

Schneiderman: Today’s Indictment In A Brutal Murder More Than 30 Years Ago Shows That We Will Never Stop Fighting To Bring Criminals To Justice

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the indictment of Michael Rodriguez, of Buffalo, for the murder of his estranged wife, Patricia Scinta Rodriguez, on April 13, 1979, in the City of Lackawanna. The arrest and indictment, resulting from a joint investigation between the Office of the Attorney General and the New York State Police (NYSP), marks the first time anyone has been charged with committing one of the most vicious crimes in the region’s history.

"No crime, particularly one as heinous as this, should go unsolved,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. "I hope that this arrest brings a measure of justice to the family and friends of Ms. Rodriguez. Today’s indictment in a brutal murder from 34 years ago shows that we will never stop trying to solve cold cases and that those responsible will eventually face justice. I want to thank the New York State Police and Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico for working with us on this investigation.”

Michael Rodriguez is charged with one count of Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony. He was arraigned earlier today at State Supreme Court in Buffalo before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia and remanded to the Erie County Holding Center to be held without bail. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, if convicted. 

According to the indictment, on April 13, 1979, Michael Rodriguez murdered his estranged wife, Patricia Scinta Rodriguez. Her body was found in the early morning hours in a deserted section of Lackawanna’s Holy Cross Cemetery by an employee. Police reports at the time of the murder indicated she had been stabbed more than 100 times.

In 2009, the New York State Police Major Crimes Unit began a new investigation of the case. 

"This indictment is the result of cooperation from the Lackawanna Police Department, the terrific efforts of OAG prosecutors and years of hard work and dedication by members of the New York State Police, specifically State Police Senior Investigator Christopher Weber,” said NYSP Troop "A" Commander Major Michael J. Cerretto. “I hope this arrest brings closure for the family and friends of Patricia Rodriguez."

This past September, at the request of Attorney General Schneiderman’s office, Erie County Court Judge Kenneth F. Case ordered the defendant to provide a DNA sample to determine whether the DNA found on the victim’s clothing matched the defendant’s. The Erie County Central Police Services Laboratory confirmed that the defendant’s DNA was found on the victim’s clothing.

Assistant Attorneys General Cydney A. Kelly and Paul F. McCarthy, of the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, along with Assistant Deputy Attorney General Patricia I. Carrington, are prosecuting the case, under the supervision of Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau Chief Gary Fishman and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan. 

The prosecutors were assisted by Investigations Bureau Investigator Denise Crawford, under the supervision of Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle, Deputy Chief Antoine Karam, and Chief Dominick Zarrella, and New York State Police Senior Investigator Christopher Weber, under the supervision of Captain Steven A. Nigrelli. The investigation was also conducted with the assistance of the Lackawanna Police Department, under the supervision of Chief James L. Michel. 

The charge is an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court. 

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