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If you've never listened to the "Morbid: A True Crime Podcast," now might be a good time. The two enchanting hosts have posted a two-part episode looking back at the 1986 murder of Katy Hawelka at Clarkson University and the current efforts by her family and friends to fight efforts by her killer to win parole. And they have some very nice things to say about my book. I share details in my latest blog post.

In writing the true crime book A STRANGER KILLED KATY, I began by collecting, organizing and studying thousands of pages from court files, police and prison records, parole transcripts and other official documents – as well as hundreds of news clippings – to help reconstruct the events before, during and after the 1986 murder of Katy Hawelka. Read more about my chase of original source materials in this blog post.


My latest book, A STRANGER KILLED KATY: The True Story of Katherine Hawelka, Her Murder on a New York Campus, and How Her Family Fought Back (Chestnut Heights Publishing, $21.95 hardcover, $14.94 paperback, $9.95 ebook) was published Monday, January 18. You can find it at, Barnes & Noble and other online sites.


In the early morning hours of August 29, 1986, Clarkson University sophomore Katy Hawelka – bright, pretty and full of life – strolled back to her upstate New York campus after a night out. On the dimly lit path beside the university’s ice hockey arena, a stranger emerged from the darkness. The brutal sexual assault and strangulation that followed rocked the campus and the local community.

When Katy was declared brain-dead three days later, her family’s nightmare had only just begun.

Syracuse, New York, resident Terry Connelly soon learned details about her daughter’s death that would make her blood boil. From the bungling campus guards who could have stopped the murder, to mistakes by others that allowed the killer to wander the streets committing violence, Katy's mother became certain of one thing: The criminal justice system only meant “justice for the criminals.”

A STRANGER KILLED KATY is the true story of a life cut tragically short, and of the fight by a grieving mother and others more than 30 years later to ensure that a killer would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

To learn more about the book, read this news release.

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