Man accused of killing 2 women at the Oceanfront 46 years ago is now in Virginia Beach, albeit in jail

Ernest Broadnax (Southside Daily/Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office)
Ernest Broadnax (Southside Daily/Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office)

VIRGINIA BEACH –The man police say killed two women at the Oceanfront in 1973 has been extradited from New York.

Ernest Broadnax, was booked into the Virginia Beach Jail Wednesday charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of rape.

The 80-year-old man of St. Albans, New York, is being held without bond, according the online jail booking information.

The charges are in connection with the 1973 killings of Janice Pietropola and Lynn Seethaler, both 19, at the Oceanfront.

Broadnax was arraigned on the charges Thursday afternoon.

Pietropola and Seethaler came to Virginia Beach from the Pittsburgh area for summer vacation. They were staying at a cottage at 10th St and Atlantic Avenue.

They had rented a cottage about a block from the Atlantic Ocean.

Concerned when the two 19-year-olds missed their checkout time, an employee opened the door of their rented cottage, peered inside and discovered the bodies on June 30, 1973.

Pietropola was shot three times in the right side of the head with a .22-caliber gun. She also was raped and strangled.

Seethaler was shot twice in the right side of the head and face. Her neck was slashed with a wine bottle, and she also was strangled.

The case turned cold after exhaustive measures failed to positively identify a suspect.

Every available detective was put on the case. There were hundreds of interviews and thousands of communiques with police elsewhere.

During their week in Virginia, Seethaler and Pietropola met several men on the beach and had gone on dates. On two occasions, they invited some of their new acquaintances back to the cottage for beers.

The contents of the women’s purses had been dumped on the cottage floor, but robbery never was considered a motive.

Police didn’t know if the killer knew the women, or if the victims were picked at random.

Janice Frances Pietropola (left) and Lynn Marie Seethaler (right) were both murdered at an Oceanfront motel cottage in 1973. (Southside daily/Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Police Department via 13NewsNow)
Janice Frances Pietropola (left) and Lynn Marie Seethaler (right) were both murdered at an Oceanfront motel cottage in 1973. (Southside daily/Courtesy of the Virginia Beach Police Department via 13NewsNow)

Detectives assigned to the Virginia Beach Police Cold Case Unit followed up on leads that came in and sought out advanced forensic technology, “determined to bring justice for the victims and their families,” police said.

During their week in Virginia, Seethaler and Pietropola met several men on the beach and had gone on dates. On two occasions, they invited some of their new acquaintances back to the cottage for beers.

The contents of the women’s purses had been dumped on the cottage floor, but robbery never was considered a motive.

Police didn’t know if the killer knew the women, or if the victims were picked at random.

Detectives assigned to the Virginia Beach Police Cold Case Unit followed up on leads that came in and sought out advanced forensic technology, “determined to bring justice for the victims and their families,” police said.

In the fall of 2018, VBPD Cold Case detectives, with the support of the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, began aggressively researching a strong lead they had received in the case, which led to Broadnax’s arrest April 8.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.