Crime and Safety

‘Bad man hurt mom’: Katie Krauseneck’s family remembers ax murder and justice finally served decades later

The sister of a young mother, Kathy Krauseneck, who was found killed with an ax almost 40 years ago, recalled how she was “devastated” after the tragic murder.

Annette Schlosser told Date Line about her sister, who was found in bed with an ax in her head in 1982. She was only 29 years old.

“I was devastated,” she recalls. “And here I am [was] at my sister’s funeral; My best friend, my mentor, my world.”

The case, which came to be known as the Brighton Ax Murder, was ignored for decades until authorities reopened the investigation in 2015.

In November 2019, Brighton police finally arrested her husband, James Krauseneck, and charged him with murder after investigators were able to link him to Cathy’s murder with the help of the FBI and state-of-the-art DNA testing.

Katie Krauseneck was sleeping when her husband James Krauseneck attacked her with an axe, prosecutors said.
Kathy Krauseneck was asleep when her husband James Krauseneck attacked her with an axe, prosecutors during James’s trial.

This fall, James, now 70, was found guilty of Kathy’s murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

After the murder, James told police that he found his wife dead in their bedroom when he returned home from work at Kodak, where he worked as an economist. He said he also found his 3-year-old daughter Sarah sitting in her bedroom at home, unharmed.

According to Dateline, police said Sarah spoke to her father after her mother’s death.

James Krauseneck Jr.
In November, 70-year-old James Krauzenek was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Sean Dowd / USA TODAY NETWORK

“I couldn’t find you,” the police said, she told him. “I didn’t know what to call you; I didn’t know which street to cycle down.”

The little girl told police she saw a “bad man” in her parents’ bedroom, but James refused to be questioned by the police, Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The day after the murder, James left Rochester with Sarah in tow to return to Michigan, where his family lived.

“I remember [Sara] saying “a bad person hurt my mom,” Schlosser told Dateline. That’s what she would say.

Sarah Krauzenek
Sarah Krauzenek was only three years old when her mother was killed.
Dateline

Sarah supported her father for many years. At her father’s sentencing hearing in November, Sarah said it was “completely unbelievable” that James could have killed her mother in such a brutal manner, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

Kathleen’s father, 95-year-old Robert Schlosser, did not doubt the guilt of his former son-in-law and even accused him of brainwashing Sarah.

Sarah Krauseneck in court
Sarah Krauseneck defended her father.
Sean Dowd / USA TODAY NETWORK

“Jim, I hope you live to 100 and enjoy your new home,” Schlosser said in a court sentencing statement.

James also pleaded not guilty, telling the court, “I didn’t kill Cathy,” according to 13 WHAM.

“I loved Katy with all my heart and all my soul. I am still haunted by the question of why someone would kill such a handsome man.”

James’ lawyers said they plan to appeal his conviction.

Dateline’s two-hour “Bad Man” special will air on Friday, January 20 at 9:00 pm.

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