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More on Nyack’s Unsolved Murder

Who Killed Amy Stafford on Friday August 10, 1978? I asked the same question in my column of August 2010. Three years later I have a very good idea who is responsible for her death—but that doesn’t mean I can prove it. I’ve talked to a number of people who knew Amy. I’ve interviewed her friends; spent time talking with the Clarkstown Police, who are still investigating her murder. I talked to a doctor who was treating her. Spoke with people who knew her parents. I learned the details of her sister Bonnie’s accidental death in California. I tried unsuccessfully to contact her younger sister, Julia Colvin, who lives somewhere near Colorado Springs. I was successful in reaching her son Ethan and had a short visit with his father. I still can’t prove who her killer is—but I have developed my own list of suspects. Put together the events surrounding the crime, established a time line and a list of people who were in contact with Amy in the few days before her murder. I’ve even come up with a theory connecting her death to one of Nyack’s most notorious crime families, but all this is circumstantial and theories, I’m confident I know who her killer is; BUT proving it!

What do I know? I know at least one of the people I spoke with about Amy and her murder knows more than she is telling me. She told me she was only a casual acquaintance yet I found a witness who places her with Amy the night of her murder in a local bar. I also discover she and Amy were lovers. I found another witness who told me her boyfriend threatened to kill her as she was driving him nuts. Her boyfriend, who was known to carry a “boot-knife,” is my prime suspect. He recently passed away before I could get an interview. From working with the police I have a good idea how Amy got from Nyack to New City where she was found. I have developed two theories as to the motive for her murder. First, Amy was a sexual tease. She enjoyed arousing men to a point of high pitched sexual level then walking away. Was she killed by a frustrated lover? Secondly, Amy “dabbled” a bit in the drug trade. Nothing huge, but she was known to sell some weed to make ends meet. Was she killed by an enforcer for a local drug dealer? She was seen in his company the night of her murder. I seriously doubt Amy’s murder will be solved by yours truly. About the only hope I have after thirty-five years that someone who does know develops remorse and contacts me with a piece of information leading to her killer.

I have to tell you what else I know. There’s a second victim in this heinous crime. Michael Ethan Stafford was only eight years old at the time of his mother’s murder. Since he lost his mother, his life went from one horror to another. He had little or no relationship with his father. He went to live with Amy’s parents Eloise and William Stafford. Ethan wrote me that he had a hard life growing up and started using drugs and alcohol. “It consumed me,” he wrote, “I was the kid you didn’t want your kids around. I just wanted people to like me even though I didn’t like myself.” After his grandfather died in 1982, Ethan was completely without discipline; his grandmother simply couldn’t handle him. He spent a few years in group homes. By the time Ethan was 15 he was really into his addictions. He became a fixture in the bars of Nyack by his 16th birthday and became well known to local police. He met a girl, got her “in trouble,” and dropped out of school. His daughter was born when he was 17, he writes; “I wasn’t ready for that!” Ethan left for California to live with a cousin, but he took his addictions and problems with him. Being mixed race he faced racism, and it lead to a lot of fights. For most of his adult life he has been in and out of California prisons. When I first contacted him through his wife Jennifer, Ethan was incarcerated on his third felony and facing a life sentence. Since then the California Court of Appeals overturned his life sentence and he is awaiting parole and a return to a wife who has stood by him. I can only pray Ethan has matured, and he can finally put his mother’s murder behind him and salvage what is left of his life.

So, who did kill Amy Stafford?

The Nyack Villager thanks Jim Leiner for helping us all ‘Remember the Days .’