ABOVE: Katy Hawelka, from elementary school to senior year at Henninger High School in Syracuse, N.Y. (Hawelka family photos.)
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.
I first met Terry Taber in spring 2018 at Riley’s restaurant in Syracuse, New York, where I picked at my salad of ribeye steak over mixed greens as I explained how I wanted to write a book about the 1986 murder of her daughter Katy Hawelka. Terry’s attorney and close friend, retired Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey, joined us for our lunch, where he and Terry spent a lot more time listening than asking questions. To learn more about how A STRANGER KILLED KATY came to be, read 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, $9.95 ebook) was published Monday, January 18. You can find it at Amazon.com, 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.