After forty-five years, case is still unsolved
by Robert A. Waters
March 8, 1966
On a sunny afternoon in the heart of Elizabeth, New Jersey, a man walked up to seven-year-old Wendy Sue Wolin, crouched down, and thrust a knife into her stomach. She doubled over and cried out, telling onlookers that the man had punched her. Several bystanders picked up the young girl and rushed her to a fire station across the street.
No one thought to follow the assailant as he shuffled down the sidewalk.
Firefighters who examined the child found that she was bleeding. They rushed her to Elizabeth General Hospital where, a few minutes later, Wendy Wolin died. The cause of death was a punctured liver.
There seemed to be no reason for the crime, no motive, just another random attack in a decaying city. (Columnist Robert J. Braun later wrote that Wendy's murder "was the beginning of the end of Elizabeth as a livable city.") Witnesses said the assailant was wearing a green fedora, a corduroy coat, and tan baggy trousers. His weapon, a hunting knife, was found at the scene.
Wendy and her mother, Shirley Fleischner, had left their apartment moments earlier. Shirley told her daughter to wait at the corner of Irvington Avenue and Prince Street while she got her car from the rear parking lot.
The entire Elizabeth police force launched a massive search for the face behind this monstrous crime. Witnesses said he was a white male in his mid-to-late-40s. He had white hair and a muscular frame. He walked with a "stiff leg." Door-to-door searches yielded no clue as to the killer's identity. Thousands of people were questioned, including a boat-load of Vietnam-bound troops aboard a ship docked in the Port Elizabeth harbor.
Cops even went so far as to use Police Chief Michael Roy to illustrate wanted posters. Witnesses said he looked similar to the attacker. Professional makeup artists whitened the chief's hair and lightened his complexion to represent a likeness of the killer. The chief took it gracefully. "What the heck, if this helps," he said. Thousands of posters with the police chief's face were distributed.
The killer was never found.
Wendy Sue Wolin. Another beautiful child whose life was snuffed out by a monster in human clothing.
Questions remain. Who murdered Wendy? Why was she killed? Why did the killer choose a crowded city street to commit the crime?
It's likely that this case will never be solved. Her killer is one more among the millions who have gotten away with bloody murder.