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Cold Case: Who killed brutally stabbed a teenage prostitute in 1982?

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - The year was 1982: Time Magazine named 'the computer' as Person of the Year, Prince William was born and Michael Jackson ruled the music scene with ‘Thriller.’

In Syracuse, police were dealing with an increase in crime on the north side, including a homicide where a teenager repeatedly stabbed in the middle of the night. 

In June of 1982, a devastating fire destroyed a Burnet Avenue building. That would soon be overshadowed by a shocking discovery in the rubble left in its wake.

The body of 17-year-old Petrina Peterson was found behind 122 Burnet Avenue, spotted by workers at the adjacent Caldwell and Ward Casting Company. 

Her partially clad body was found in the rubble-- and police determined she was stabbed.

One neighbor said he heard a woman’s scream and then silence that night. 

“A few minutes later, a car pulled out, as fast as you dared to pull out of there, and headed toward State Street,” said neighbor George Gibs in 1982. 

Peterson, who also went by the name Dana Jones, was from Albany, but had been living in Syracuse. She had been living in a shelter for women in crisis in Albany. 

“We warned her about her friends and lifestyle,” said Sister Aquin Theobald, the Mercy House executive director. 

Police say Peterson was working the night she died. She was last seen going in and out of the Open Door, a bar on East Water Street, with different men.  

All of those men were interviewed and ruled out as suspects.

Police thought a break in the case came a few weeks later, when they got a phone-call from a man who wanted to confess.

After hours of questioning, they let 18-year-old William St. Germain go-- there wasn't enough evidence to arrest him, but questions about his involvement linger to this day.  

“We're trying to go through contemporary methods of DNA testing, hoping testing done in the past, either didn't find or there are new methods, now available that could lead us in the direction of a suspect,” said Det. Chris DeJoseph with the Syracuse Police Cold Case unit. 

What ever happened to William St. Germain? That same year, he got convicted of molesting a woman during a burglary at her home.  

He spent time in prison for violating probation and is still in prison.

He’s now serving time for the 1988 rape and murder of a 3-year-old Syracuse girl. 

If you have any information on the cold case, call detectives at 315-442-5234.
 


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