True Crime: The Bizarre Conviction of Patricia Rorrer, an Innocent Woman

Updated on May 15, 2019

If you were on a jury, would you convict someone for murder if they lived hundreds of miles from where the crime happened and there was absolutely no evidence they were in the state where the crime occurred?

You're probably thinking of course not. A jury should only convict if guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. No evidence the accused was in the state where the crime occurred would represent reasonable doubt. Well, a jury did convict a woman named Patricia Rorrer and sentenced her to life in prison even though there was no evidence she was in Pennsylvania where the crime took place, and multiple alibi witnesses said she was in North Carolina. She's still serving a life sentence for a crime she simply could not have committed.

Tammy Mal who wrote a book about her case said:

"Patty didn’t convince me that she was wrongfully convicted; she literally proved it to me...when Patricia Rorrer would tell me about troubling aspects of the case, and then back up her claims with actual police, FBI and forensic lab reports verifying what she said. It was pretty astonishing to realize that the case was littered with some very serious problems that had never been reported publicly."

Background of the Case

Joann Katrinak and her three month old son Alex went missing in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania on December 15, 1994. Her husband Andy reported them missing. Their bodies were found four months later unburied in the woods. Patricia Rorrer was one of Andy Katrinak's ex-girlfriends. She and Andy had sporadic contact with each other. When Patricia won a competition, she excitedly called everyone she knew. When she called Andy's house, Joann picked up the phone, told Patricia not to call again and hung up.

Why Patricia Rorrer Couldn't Have Been the Killer

This incident led to a pretty bizarre police theory. In something reminiscent of the 1987 movie Fatal Attraction, Patricia was so angry at the affront, she hopped in her van five days later with a gun that jammed after firing only one shot, drove for twelve hours, broke into the Katrinak home, took Joann and Alex hostage, forced Joann to drive to the woods (to an area Patricia had a connection to), shot Joann, then bashed her head in multiple times (because she brought a tiny gun she knew didn't work properly) and left.

Patricia, an almost six foot tall woman who drove a distinctive van with Riverwood Stables emblazoned on it, supposedly spent days in the Catasauqua area stalking and murdering people, yet no one saw her. The killings happened in winter. She would have needed a place to stay. There's no evidence she rented a hotel room. She would have needed to eat. No one testified to seeing her at any restaurants.

And even more amazingly, no one in North Carolina noticed she was gone for five whole days a couple of weeks before Christmas. This includes individuals who had Patricia under surveillance. Some people suspected she was involved in a horse stealing operation. On December 12, 1994 they started to watch her. This interestingly enough is the same day police claim Patricia began her trip to Pennsylvania. The surveillance continued through December 16, 1994, the day after Joann and Alex disappeared. The people involved said Patricia Rorrer wasn't around much. She wasn't gone. Just wasn't around much. Surely if Patricia had been in another state, she wouldn't have been seen at all. The surveillance notes were handed over to the police and apparently not seen again. Patricia's defense never saw them. Patricia's van presents another problem. She didn't have any roadworthy vehicles at the time of the murders, something multiple people verified. So she drove to Pennsylvania in a van badly in need of repairs, with a gun that didn't work properly. Even for a crime of passion, that's all very hard to believe.

According to Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. The simplest explanation for why an almost six-foot tall woman who spoke with a Southern accent and drove a large distinctive van with North Carolina plates went unnoticed in the small town of Catasauqua (population approx. 6000) was because she wasn't there. The simplest explanation for why no one in North Carolina noticed she was gone for five whole days was because she was there. There were many sightings of a woman matching Joann's description around the time of the disappearances (including people who claimed to see a couple that looked like her and Andy arguing) but there were no sightings of Patricia or her distinctive van. As Tammy Mal put it, Patricia would have stuck out like a sore thumb if she had been in Catasauqua in December 1994. She clearly wasn't there.

The personality of Joann Katrinak presents another problem. She was described as a "spitfire," someone who would put up a fight to protect her baby. Yet this "spitfire" left home under duress without raising the alarm when there were people around who could have intervened? If Patricia was the killer, why would she even risk a daytime, outdoor kidnapping and force her victim to do the driving (Joann could have jumped out of the car to summon help or hit something to call attention to her plight)? Patricia could have broken into the house, killed Joann and Alex inside, and then left. Instead, she apparently spent seven hours in the Katrinak house waiting for Joann and Alex to leave so she could kidnap them outside in broad daylight. Why would she do this? And even if she was for some odd reason determined to kidnap them out in the open for anyone driving by, walking their dog or looking out their window to see, why would she assume Joann and Alex would leave the house that day? According to Tammy Mal, as soon as Patricia heard Joann and Alex were leaving to go shopping, she would have had to cut the phone line*, gather up her screwdriver, wire cutter, and crowbar, get her gun out, rush upstairs and then confront her victims (again, outside in broad daylight). If there was a very difficult or risky way to do something, Patricia always seemed to choose it over simpler, safer options. Why?

*The police claim the phone line was cut right before the abduction probably because Joann supposedly used the phone right before leaving home. But why would Patricia cut the phone line when it was no longer necessary to do so? She spent hours in the basement unconcerned that she might make a noise that would prompt Joann to call the police, but then cut the phone line right when Joann was leaving the house? And she chose to make that cut in a hard to access area even though she would have been in a big hurry to get upstairs before Joann had a chance to drive away? There are a lot of inexplicable, nonsensical things that supposedly happened according to the police/prosecution theory of the case that would be laughable if the situation weren't so tragic. A movie script with such a bizarre and convoluted storyline would never get green-lighted because it wouldn't be believable. How sad that our "justice" system has much lower standards.

If Patricia broke into the house to kidnap Joann and Alex, why was there no physical evidence of her presence? When the police arrived at the Katrinak home the first time Joann and Alex were reported missing, they saw no signs of a break-in. The signs of a break-in were there the second time the police showed up. Andy also showed police the cut phone line. To quote Tammy Mal, "There, tucked up near the floor joists and almost hidden in the insulation, two wires dangled in the empty air." If Patricia was the killer, she would have needed a lot of time to break into the house (using a screwdriver to remove nineteen screws "when it was so much easier just to pop the hasp from the jamb") and would have likely touched and rubbed up against all kinds of things as she searched for the phone line to cut ("why would the intruder seek out this obscure, hidden phone line when the main line was clearly visible upon entering the basement"), yet there was zero physical evidence of her presence in the house. It seems highly unlikely she could have spent hours around and in the house, and not leave any physical evidence (footprints, fingerprints, DNA, hair, fibers) behind. This is when DNA was in its infancy and criminals weren't taking precautions to avoid leaving any. If Patricia cut the phone line, she would have to have done it moments before the abduction, giving herself no time to clean up any evidence.

Joann's car was found in a parking lot near the Katrinak home. According to the police, Patty used the car to abduct Joann and Alex and drive them into the woods where she killed them. But why would she bring the car back to the scene of the kidnapping? And why would she leave it in a busy area where she could be seen instead of an isolated area? Once again, Patricia is taking major risks and doing things the hard way. And why was there no evidence the car had just been driven into the woods?*

*If the car had been driven into the woods, there should have been dirt similar to the burial site on it. There wasn't any. Patricia would have been covered in blood after the killing.** No blood was found in the car. Because the hairs Patricia and thousands of other people were a potential match for were found in the car the prosecution had to make it a part of the crime despite the lack of physical evidence to support that claim, and eyewitness reports saying the car had been in the lot since 12:30 pm (two hours before Patricia is said to have carried out the kidnapping).

**In Convenient Suspect, Tammy Mal talks about a 13 year old girl named Jessica who overheard her mother's boyfriend talking to someone about a missing woman and her baby. Not long after, Jessica's mother is said to have found rope, bloody jeans and jewelry hidden in their basement. Jessica claimed her mother helped the boyfriend burn the jeans in the backyard. The mother confirmed much of this story to police, including finding bloody jeans, but denied helping to burn them. Someone else said Jessica's mother talked about her boyfriend coming home covered in blood saying something had gone wrong involving a Catasauqua woman and her baby. That person said Jessica's mother admitted to helping burn the jeans. Patricia's jury never heard any of this. If they had, that could have created a lot of reasonable doubt. The killer being a local also makes far more sense. It would have been hard for someone from out-of-state to clean so much blood off their clothes, hair and body without access to a shower.***

***Recall the police and prosecutor claim Patricia drove Joann's car to a busy area and parked it in a parking lot. They don't explain how she managed to clean herself up so well that not a drop of blood or any dirt was found in the car. And again, not one person witnessed Patricia leaving the scene.

Joann put up a fight before she was killed. Her head was bashed in and she lost a lot of blood. Yet when Patty was interviewed by police soon after the disappearance wearing a short sleeve shirt, she had no signs of injury. How could a woman have been involved in a violent struggle with another woman, yet not have a scratch or a bruise to show for it?*

*The killer's fingernail was pulled off during the struggle and found on Joann's chest. That fingernail was too large to be Patricia's and the prosecution refused to test it for DNA.

Insect evidence also likely rules Patricia out as the killer. Based on insect activity, an expert witness concluded that eggs found on the bodies could only have been laid on February 18, 1995.

"I cannot say the bodies were not there before February 18, but from the insect activity I saw, in my opinion, this was the first opportunity for them to have activity."

The prosecution originally contacted this expert to testify for them. When his evidence pointed toward a conclusion that ruled out Patricia, they changed their minds. That isn't how law enforcement should operate. When evidence proves innocence, they should accept that. Not ignore what doesn't fit their case.

If the bodies were brought to the woods on February 18 or some point after that, which insect activity implies, Patricia would have had to make a return journey to move the bodies.

Arguments for her Guilt

Okay, you're probably thinking this woman is serving a life sentence for murder. There had to have been a reason for this. A few arguments are made for Rorrer's guilt.

  • She didn't make any long distance calls for five days at the time of the disappearance.
  • She claimed she was at a club on the night of the disappearance. The club had a sign in policy but she had not signed in.
  • She was a potential match for a hair found in the victim's car.
  • The bodies were found near a horse stable where Patricia used to work.

The problems with these arguments.

  • It wasn't unusual for Patricia Rorrer to go for days at a time without making any long distance calls. According to her phone records, there were several multi-day breaks without long distance calls. She had won a competition and had excitedly called people she knew to let them know. It was that win that led to her fateful call with Joann. She would have had little reason to make long distance calls soon after since she had just called everybody she knew.
  • Patricia took dance classes at the club. The sign in sheets weren't out when the dance students showed up, so it's not surprising that she didn't sign in. The policy wasn't strictly enforced and it wasn't unusual for people to get in without signing their names. Her dance instructor said she was there that day. Two other people, her boyfriend, and a man she didn't know too well, were with her outside the club that night. Patricia talked to them about having car trouble.
  • The hair that connected Patricia to the crime was most likely a hair she had given to the police as a sample. From Convenient Suspect, "It took two and a half years after the discovery of those six hairs in Joann's car for Dr. Deadman to match them to Patty, and in all that time, no one had ever seen a root on any of those hairs...There obviously were no roots on the hairs found in Joann's car, and the fact that Dr. Dizinno tested them for mitochondrial DNA proves it. Had there been a root, he would not have had to use that method. So was it just a coincidence that no one ever noticed a root until after the police secured samples of Patty's hair? Or is it possible that somehow Patty's hair was mislabeled as a hair from Joann's car and DNA tested against her own blood?"
  • Patricia lived in that area of Pennsylvania years before. She would likely have known plenty of isolated places. Why choose one that could lead back to her? If the bodies were moved, was someone attempting to frame her? Someone who knew she was a suspect?

Convenient Suspect by Tammy Mal

Serial and Making a Murderer highlight obvious problems of police misconduct or myopia, but they don't make any compelling case for innocence. Convenient Suspect: A Double Murder, a Flawed Investigation, and the Railroading of an Innocent Woman by Tammy Mal makes a strong case that:

  • evidence in the Patricia Rorrer case was mishandled or tampered with
  • exculpatory evidence was ignored, lost or hidden
  • the police refused to believe multiple alibi witnesses for Patricia while they had no problem believing Andy Katrinak's one alibi witness, his father. If one alibi witness was satisfactory for Andy, why were multiple alibi witnesses unsatisfactory when it came to Patricia?
  • a key witness changed her story. Only Andy's mother claimed to have interacted with Joann around the time the prosecution says she went missing. She said she talked to Joann that day to arrange a Christmas shopping trip. His mother told a different story on the stand during the trial that completely changed the timeline of the disappearances, yet the police and prosecutor seem to have been unfazed by this radically different version of events. It also raises the question of whether his mother talked to Joann that day at all. If she didn't, that completely changes everything about the case. Since the police built their case around this phone call and those shopping plans, they should have been very concerned when that story changed.*

*Veronica Katrinak told police she talked to Joann at 1:15. Joann said she would pick her up to go shopping between 1:30 and 1:45. In this version of events, they have definite plans and Joann is almost ready to walk out the door. She must have been home when she went missing. On the stand, Veronica said she told Joann she would need 35 to 40 minutes to get ready. In this new version, there aren't any definite plans. Did Joann stay home after the call? Did she decide to run some errands before going to her in-law's house? She could easily have been somewhere else when she was kidnapped. The investigation should have been reopened to determine a) if this phone call really happened** and b) if Joann went anywhere else that day.

**A neighbor said he saw Joann leaving home around noon that day. If that neighbor is correct, either that call didn't happen or Veronica may have believed it happened far later than it did. Another neighbor witnessed Joann putting Alex in the car. It's hard to believe that a kidnapping occurred at that moment and no one saw or heard anything.

An organization called the Worldwide Womens Criminal Justice Network lists these as the reasons for Patricia Rorrer's conviction.

"Convicting Factors: forensic fabrication, hidden evidence, media hysteria."

The police were so set on Patricia being the killer, there was probably nothing she could do to convince them otherwise. And that's what makes this so scary. If the police believe you've committed a crime, they can potentially get a conviction by ignoring what exonerates you and massaging evidence to make it fit. And it could happen to anyone. That's why juries should be vigilant. The jury in the Patricia Rorrer case took only two hours to convict her. There's simply no way they could have gone over all the evidence for a one month trial in two hours. They trusted law enforcement despite all the obvious problems with the case, including an expert witness relabeling improperly labeled samples on the stand and the prosecutor changing the theory of the case mid-trial. Jurors need to remember that whenever an innocent person goes to prison, a guilty person goes free.

Tammy Mal's Convenient Suspect presents much more evidence for innocence than I've provided in this article.

  • The hardcover, paperback, eBook and audiobook versions are available on all book-selling sites
  • If you have a library card you may be able to read it or listen for free on Hoopla
  • If you subscribe to scribd.com, you can listen to the audiobook as part of your subscription

To quote an Amazon reviewer, Mal's book addresses:

"...dismissed witness statements; witnesses discouraged to come forward by law enforcement; other potential suspects never questioned; trace evidence on and near the victims that was never processed; contaminated and questionable DNA evidence; pertinent information that was not disclosed by the Prosecutor to the Defense."

Also, check out https://www.patriciarorrer.org/

So if she's innocent...

The case made by the police and prosecutor contradicted the physical and eyewitness evidence they themselves had collected. So why was Rorrer prosecuted and then convicted?

In a Washington Post opinion piece titled Why do prosecutors go after innocent people?, John Pfaff argues that the biggest issue is not that "prosecutors storm ahead anyway, out of malice or blind ambition" even though that does happen. Prosecutors often deal with "ambiguous cases" where they have to choose "to err on the side of 'safety' and file the charges vs. erring on the side of 'caution' and dropping the case." Prosecutors "are sensitive to electoral pressures even when victory seems assured." A prosecutor who doesn't pursue a particular case may be defeated in the next election. An angry public and media can put damaging pressure on police and prosecutors to charge suspects even when the evidence isn't there to support the very case they're forced to make.

In this case, the public and media were understandably upset by the brutal murders of a young woman and her baby. The police likely had no idea what had happened to Joann and Alex but they may unconsciously have felt pressure to solve the case rather than let it go cold. That's often when tunnel vision kicks in. Tunnel vision is the tendency to interpret new information in a way that confirms existing beliefs and to discard information that challenges them. In other words, evidence that supports their case against a suspect stands out in their minds while evidence pointing toward innocence gets discounted. They can earnestly believe they have the right person despite all the evidence indicating they're wrong.

When prosecutors choose to pursue a case they almost always get a conviction. Why? Because the public often falsely believes that police and prosecutors will only pursue a case when they're certain of guilt. If the cops are saying someone did it, it must be true. That's why jurors will often convict despite very obvious problems with a case. Statistics on false convictions show how wrong that thinking is. It's estimated there are between 46,000 and 230,000 innocent people serving time in the United States.

Once someone is wrongly convicted, there's more pressure to keep them locked up during the lengthy appeals process. Having a conviction overturned can cost tens of thousands to millions of dollars. The longer an innocent person is imprisoned, the more compensation they can demand. That money comes out of taxpayers' pockets.

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  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 

    2 days ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    J Jahan......It's nice to meet you. I was drawn to your Title since like many, I recently saw the documentary on this very case. I was shocked, to say the least that I was not already familiar with this particular case or it's controversy. I am a seriously active follower of any and all high profile cases. In fact, I've tried to tone it down a bit because I become so deeply involved in all the aspects of this sort of story. At times, if there happens to be more than one that floods the media with news reports, articles and documentaries, I'm like an overworked investigator!

    Because this particular case is new to me, I did a simple search before deciding to comment. This is definitely a complex, convoluted sort of scenario, for sure. The more I read, the more I realized I cannot, in all fairness, give you an opinion or even a speculation of one at this point. That's the disappointing news.

    The good news is, is that I'm a member here and one of your fellow-writers. In fact, another thing that surprises me is that we have not crossed paths at any point......or at least that I recall.

    Reading your article was a pleasure. Your writing talent is quite obvious and I appreciate that.

    So J Janas....here's my deal;....please have patience with me as I do some research and try to familiarize myself with much more of the details, twists and turns to this fascinating case. I'll do my usual P.I. work and try to get a handle on my thoughts and feelings.

    Just the little bit I did, it appears to be one of those that is simply not as cut and dry as perhaps the prosecution wants the world to believe.

    Thanks for giving me a project! It's been a little while since I rolled up my sleeves and went head first into another deep, dark murder case. No doubt, the fact that a precious innocent baby is involved here, I will need to brace myself and my "motherly emotions."

    I shall return! Peace, Paula

  • Pollyannalana profile image

    Pollyannalana 

    2 days ago from US

    Seems ridiculous to me this woman could have been convicted. It seems juries just throw the reasonable doubt right over their shoulder.

    This woman as Darlie Routier (in my opinion) cannot possibly have this made up to them.

    Hopefully someone will look into this case as I have heard they are finally doing Darlie's.

    Glad I found this. Very well written.

  • profile image

    Clifford Freeman 

    8 days ago

    I’m at a loss to understand some of these subscribers who respond to your article.

    I now see you have yet another person who’s so obsessively fixated on Rorrer’s guilt, nothing or no-one who offers logical possibilities as to Rorrer’s innocence is going to make a difference. They, incredibly, see her as being not just guilty, but undeniably so!

    It’s seems pretty clear they’ve made no effort to read up factual literature relating to the case. It would seem they prefer to watch related documentaries to get their information. If these viewers had any commonsense, they would realise very little substance in these programmes is true.

    All the points he lists are so feeble, they really don’t warrant being considered let alone refuted.

    To make my point, one example.... I refer to his statement about the “signing in” book, quoted below....

    “Patricia regularly did (sign in) with the exception of the day the abduction took place.”

    If that were so, are we then to believe the police followed up with enquiries on all the other dates she failed to sign in? I doubt very much they did, because if they did discover dates on which she failed to sign in (I’m sure there would have been many), they would have had to keep quiet about it, else it would have severely compromised that line of enquiry.

    It really is laughable that this person’s actually has the effrontery to ask if you’ve ever played “devil’s advocate” with yourself!

    It would be far more appropriate for him/her to be aiming the same question at him/herself.

    Referring to the television programmes, I’ve watched a few of these programmes and it’s not difficult to see how much is exaggerated and fabricated. Obviously, these programmes are made for one purpose.....money. And to that end they take outrageous liberties with their exaggeration of testimony at the trial, adding their own spin on scenarios which were presented at the trial and fabricating scenes to fit in with their warped presentation.

    The opening lines in one of the many programmes I remember started with the narrator saying that Rorrer spent five days driving round the Katrinaks’ hometown as well as stalking Joann! My immediate thought was: How on Earth would they have known that?

    Especially, since it was never proved she was in the region at that time. And that was just one of many sequences of fiction depicted in their programme. Trial over, they now seem to have carte blanche to say and show anything they like without fear of penalty.... and worse, there are those who believe it!

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    9 days ago from California

    Curious George,

    I'm going purely by Tammy Mal's thorough research on this case. According to her, the sign in sheets were never out when people showed up to dance class on Thursday night. I don't know if you are correct when you say that was the only night Patricia didn't sign in. Mal doesn't address that particular topic. What she does say is that anyone attending dance classes did not have to sign in and that many people who attended the club never signed in. Patricia did not have to sign in that night because she went to dance class. Yes, it was required but she would have had to exit the club and then go back in again. I'm sure many people didn't bother to do that.

    According to Mal, you're incorrect about the phone calls. To quote from Mal's book:

    "a total of eighty-six days when Patty had made no long-distance calls. There were two five-day gaps, four four-day gaps, two three-day gaps, and nine two-day gaps."

    Conspiracies are absolutely plausible unfortunately. If you read up on wrongful convictions, you'll find many shocking instances. I know that makes many people uncomfortable because it's frightening to think about.

    I'm planning a series of articles on wrongful convictions. I'm not related to anyone I have or will write about. I don't even know anyone who's been arrested for a crime let alone anyone who's serving time.

  • profile image

    Curious george 

    9 days ago

    J - have you ever played devil’s advocate with yourself and considered even the possibility that she is guilty? Several of your talking points are easily refuted by the facts. For example, regardless of who broke up with who, the evidence shows that it was Patricia who had been initiating communication with her ex at the time of the murder, not vice versa. Also, regarding the sign in sheet, you did not note that although it wasn’t unusual for some to not sign the signin sheet, Patricia regularly did with the exception of the day the abduction took place. Additionally, a conspiracy theory just isn’t plausible, or even likely. Many voluntary DNA tests have come up proving the subject guilty, and what typically follows is the subject pulling out a “tampered” evidence conspiracy theory. Lastly, several shows/documentaries have shown evidence contrary to your point that she regularly went periods without making calls. She didn’t, and her phone records were produced as evidence proving that. Obviously, you are passionate on this, but it helps no one if you are so passionate, you are presently unable unable to view all the facts with an open mind.

  • profile image

    Curious George 1005 

    9 days ago

    You have to be related to Patricia in some way, family or otherwise. Not only is there no reasonable doubt, her guilt is beyond any doubt at all!! This woman is a monster and is exactly where she belongs!!

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    11 days ago from California

    Clifford,

    I lean toward the killing not being premeditated because of how brutal and bloody it was. Generally killings like that happen for a few reasons.

    - the killer is a serial killer/psychopath who gets a thrill out of hurting someone

    - the killer doesn't have access to an effective weapon

    - the killer loses their temper and beats their victim

    Joann left home at noon that day. Her car was parked in a parking lot not too long after and according to both physical and eyewitness evidence it didn't move all day. Maybe she went to meet up with someone for lunch and got into their car. Maybe she and this other person got into an argument. Or maybe her killer used a lunch meeting as a way to lure her to her death. Based on the circumstances, I don't think they intended to kill her at the moment they did for this reason. Joann's killer had a gun so why did they risk beating her and covering themselves in blood which increased their odds of being found out? There are a couple of possibilities.

    - the killing wasn't premeditated

    - the killing was premeditated but the killer didn't plan on doing it at that moment. For example, gunshots would be heard and reported so the killer may have wanted to take her to an isolated location first.

    I think Patricia's defective gun was a big reason the police zeroed in on her. It was a neat explanation for why a killer with a gun took the risk of covering themselves in blood. The problem though was that the police/prosecution theory involving Patricia was too convoluted and too unlikely. She also had plenty of alibi witnesses placing her hundreds of miles away.

    Another neat explanation for why a killer with a gun bashed their victim's head in was that they lost their temper. It was a heat of the moment thing. They then retrieved their gun to finish her off. But you could be right about it being planned. They may have planned it in advance and things got out of control.

  • profile image

    Clifford Freeman 

    11 days ago

    I certainly agree with most of your theory that Joann knew her killer – her husband seemed the most likely suspect – for various reasons... they were out for a drive and probably a picnic to a location of which he was very much aware. She very willingly went along with the baby having absolutely no suspicions of potential wrongdoing – she even took the baby’s toy and feeding bottle (somewhat unlikely, for someone under duress with a gun pointed at her!) Not a scene any bystanders are going to look at suspiciously... just a family going about their business walking to the car... as opposed to someone, no doubt, looking alarmed and frightened, walking with her baby in broad daylight towards the car, with a complete stranger. And this stranger must have had some extreme nerve to risk this action so blatantly... the baby could have cried out and drawn attention to them. To suggest Joann’s concern for her baby was the overriding factor for her compliance could have been credible if there was no one around but this was simply not the case. The field where the bodies were found was in all probability their destination – Patricia and he frequently visited the place when they were together.

    Where I differ from your theory is that I believe everything was premeditated right up to the murder itself, including the argument, if there was one at all. If your premise is correct, the question then is: Why did the person who committed the murder take a gun and what’s believed to have been a shovel (presumably what was used to bludgeon Joann) to the scene... which certainly suggests premeditation. Motive? Paternity of the child. This was brought into question previously when the husband and wife were witnessed having a heated argument in public. That witness was never allowed to testify in court. He was discredited as “crazy” and thrown out of the police station, apparently being severely beaten in the process resulting in him being hospitalised.

    I see another “she’s guilty” die-hard has decided to add his/her six-pence worth of speculation to muddy the waters.

    His somewhat asinine comment, along with a multitude of others... “Just because I'm not seen doesn't mean I'm not there... and doesn't necessarily raise reasonable doubt”.

    That’s so laughable, it makes one cringe. That twisted logic, if one could call it that, could then be applied to anything or anyone in the absence of any corroborating evidence. However in this case there WAS evidence supporting her case. There were multiple witnesses confirming her presence in NC at the time of the murder.

    So “not being there”, and other items of evidence to corroborate that, certainly adds up to reasonable doubt.

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    11 days ago from California

    Nila,

    Witnesses reported seeing many odd things the day of the disappearances including a man stuck in traffic saying he saw a woman who he believed was Joann being led along a railway track by a man with a beard. He said it looked like the woman was holding something blue against her chest. The baby's blanket was blue. None of the sightings that day involved Patricia Rorrer. People noticed things that day. If Patricia was the killer, it defies logic that of all the people who saw things not one of them saw anyone who matched her description.

    And again, none of her neighbors in NC noticed she was away. Her van was large and distinctive. If it wasn't parked where it usually was, her neighbors would have noticed and more than likely asked her where she'd been. But nothing like that happened. Everything points to Patricia being in NC at the time of the disappearances.

  • profile image

    Nila 

    11 days ago

    mpms

    She wouldn't have been able to hide from witnesses that easily. think about it. She had to drive 1000 miles in a van that stuck out without any witnesses noticing. She had to carry out a kidnapping in the middle of the day in a populated area without any witnesses seeing anything. She had to bring her victims to an area that's close to train and traffic routes where people jog and ride horses and fire a gunshot and again have no witnesses see or hear any thing. She had to park the victim's car in a populated area in daylight after the killing. Again without any witnesses. At the same time no one saw her in Pennsylvania, several witnesses testified to seeing her in North Carolina.

    And even if she did bring all the supplies she needed like you say she would still have had to stop for gas. Now you might say she brought a container of gas. But containers usually only hold a couple of gallons. that trip would have required at least 3 to 5 gas containers to avoid having to stop at a gas station. Stopping at gas stations to and from a murder would have been a big risk. But so would buying and filling multiple gas containers whether she did it at the same time or separate because someone might have noticed her doing it. I believe Rorrer is innocent because to conclude she's guilty would require suspending disbelief way more than I reasonable can.

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    J Jahan 

    11 days ago from California

    Clifford Freeman,

    "For starters, why would anyone, whose intention was to kill someone, take with them a defective gun to commit that act?

    And the prosecution’s assertion that Rorrer fired one shot at Joann, found the gun to jam and consequently had to finish the act by bludgeoning her to death. This seems to be the scenario accepted by the jury and just about everyone else who believes her to be guilty.

    A more credible possibility would be that the murderer started to bludgeon the victim and then apply the coup de grace by firing one shot from a perfectly working gun."

    My theory is that the killing wasn't planned. I think Joann knew her killer and willingly went with them. They got into an argument and her killer lost control. It makes far more sense than a woman 500 miles away getting upset because someone hung up on her.

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    J Jahan 

    11 days ago from California

    MPMS,

    I'd recommend you read Tammy Mal's book to get a good idea of why your comments are incorrect. For example, Andy had wanted to get back with Patricia several times. She didn't want him back. So, there's no motive. The prosecution claimed she was in PA for five days stalking the Katrinaks and that she left the car in a busy area. To not be seen over five whole days when Joann was seen repeatedly. And that people in NC never noticed she was gone including people who had her under surveillance. And then those surveillance notes somehow disappeared. If you read the book, you'll get a better understanding of why the points I make here are evidence of innocence.

    A case needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There's a ton of reasonable doubt in this case. Sure, one or two thing in isolation may not mean a whole lot. But put all these things together and there was no reason to convict. Even one of the jurors said if it wasn't for the DNA (the way it was used in this case was later discredited) he wouldn't have convicted because of the lack of overall evidence.

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    MPMS 

    12 days ago

    J, Some points for your consideration:

    If you were on a jury, would you convict someone for murder if they lived hundreds of miles from where the crime happened and there was absolutely no evidence they were in the state where the crime occurred?

    Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. Your opening gambit establishes nothing of significance. So, yes, it may be perfectly reasonable to convict.

    You're probably thinking of course not. A jury should only convict if guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. No evidence the accused was in the state where the crime occurred would represent reasonable doubt. Well, a jury did convict a woman named Patricia Rorrer and sentenced her to life in prison even though there was no evidence she was in Pennsylvania where the crime took place, and multiple alibi witnesses said she was in North Carolina. She's still serving a life sentence for a crime she simply could not have committed.

    See above: 'evidence' can be inferential - it doesn't have to be empirical. Just because I'm not seen doesn't mean I'm not there... and doesn't necessarily raise reasonable doubt.

    Background of the Case

    Joann Katrinak and her three month old son Alex went missing in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania on December 15, 1994. Her husband Andy reported them missing. Their bodies were found four months later unburied in the woods. Patricia Rorrer was one of Andy Katrinak's ex-girlfriends. She and Andy had sporadic contact with each other. When Patricia won a competition, she excitedly called everyone she knew. When she called Andy's house, Joann picked up the phone, told Patricia not to call again and hung up.

    Why Patricia Rorrer Couldn't Have Been the Killer

    This incident led to a pretty bizarre police theory. In something reminiscent of the 1987 movie Fatal Attraction, Patricia was so angry at the affront, she hopped in her van five days later with a gun that jammed after firing only one shot, drove for twelve hours, broke into the Katrinak home, took Joann and Alex hostage, forced Joann to drive to the woods (to an area Patricia had a connection to), shot Joann, then bashed her head in multiple times (because she brought a tiny gun she knew didn't work properly) and left.

    Too dismissive of potential motive. Jealousy that her 'ex' was with another woman and having a child with her was cited (and is a well-known motive for murder!), when her relationship after Andy had 'failed' and she wanted him back.

    Patricia, an almost six foot tall woman who drove a distinctive van with Riverwood Stables emblazoned on it, supposedly spent days in the Catasauqua area stalking and murdering people, yet no one saw her. The killings happened in winter. She would have needed a place to stay. There's no evidence she rented a hotel room. She would have needed to eat. No one testified to seeing her at any restaurants.

    Too dismissive: she could have driven for 24h (round trip), slept for eight, and committed the crime over another few. That equals less than two days... Who says she didn't sleep in her vehicle and bring provisions with her? NOTHING here need make it unusual that she wasn't seen, and is very far from probative of innocence.

    And even more amazingly, no one in North Carolina noticed she was gone for five whole days a couple of weeks before Christmas. This includes individuals who had Patricia under surveillance. Some people suspected she was involved in a horse stealing operation. On December 12, 1994 they started to watch her. This interestingly enough is the same day police claim Patricia began her trip to Pennsylvania. The surveillance continued through December 16, 1994, the day after Joann and Alex disappeared. The people involved said Patricia Rorrer wasn't around much. She wasn't gone. Just wasn't around much. Surely if Patricia had been in another state, she wouldn't have been seen at all. The surveillance notes were handed over to the police and apparently not seen again. Patricia's defense never saw them. Patricia's van presents another problem. She didn't have any roadworthy vehicles at the time of the murders, something multiple people verified. So she drove to Pennsylvania in a van badly in need of repairs, with a gun that didn't work properly. Even for a crime of passion, that's all very hard to believe.

    Why absence for five days? That she made no calls from home for five days doesn't mean she was away for that duration. As stated above, the crime could've been committed in less than 48h. Only if it's claimed she was seen more than in this time, such as every day, is that probative of innocence. Was she being surveilled every day, with testimony that she could not have been gone for up to two days? Was the van driveable or not? If not, could she have used another not known of / borrowed / stolen one? Did she KNOW that the gun was faulty before allegedly using it? NONE of this is hard to believe of a person driven by anger/jealousy...

    According to Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. The simplest explanation for why an almost six-foot tall woman who spoke with a Southern accent and drove a large distinctive van with North Carolina plates went unnoticed in the small town of Catasauqua (population approx. 6000) was because she wasn't there. The simplest explanation for why no one in North Carolina noticed she was gone for five whole days was because she was there. Dozens of people claimed to see a woman matching Joann's description around the time of the killings (including people who claimed to see a couple that looked like her and Andy arguing) but there were no sightings of Patricia or her van. As Tammy Mal put it, Patricia would have stuck out like a sore thumb if she had been in Catasauqua in December 1994. She clearly wasn't there.

    Another simple explanation is that, being there for only hours, she wasn't SEEN, not that she wasn't there. She'd have every reason to get there and get out as soon as the deed was done. Why do you assume she was there for some three or four days, stalking? All she needed was the address and to sit and wait for Andy to leave for work... You have, so far, made a number of assumptions that need substantiating if they're to have the significance you claim.

    The personality of Joann Katrinak presents another problem. She was described as a "spitfire," someone who would put up a fight to protect her baby. Yet this "spitfire" left home under duress without raising the alarm when there were people around who could have intervened? If Patricia was the killer, why would she even risk a daytime, outdoor kidnapping and force her victim to do the driving (Joann could have jumped out of the car to summon help or hit something to call attention to her plight)? Patricia could have broken into the house, killed Joann and Alex inside, and then left. Instead, she apparently spent seven hours in the Katrinak house waiting for Joann and Alex to leave so she could kidnap them outside in broad daylight. Why would she do this? And even if she was for some odd reason determined to kidnap them out in the open for anyone driving by, walking their dog or looking out their window to see, why would she assume Joann and Alex would leave the house that day? According to Tammy Mal, as soon as Patricia heard Joann and Alex were leaving to go shopping, she would have had to cut the phone line*, gather up her screwdriver, wire cutter, and crowbar, get her gun out, rush upstairs and then confront her victims (again, outside in broad daylight). If there was a very difficult or risky way to do something, Patricia always seemed to choose it over simpler, safer options. Why?

    Were people readily around to help? 'Scream and I'll shoot' is persuasive. Would J, risk injury in jettison from the car, as well as leave the baby to its fate? You assume she would have. Would she crash, risking threat of shooting and safety of her baby? You assume she would have. You also assume R was rational and calculating of risk - but if she was driven with rage, who can say that she wouldn't take the abduction action instead of indoor killing? She didn't need to 'assume' any

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    Clifford Freeman 

    12 days ago

    It puzzles me that the theory, which was presented at the trial, about Rorrer being the one who used a defective gun, was so

    willingly accepted by the jury and all those who believe her to be guilty.

    For starters, why would anyone, whose intention was to kill someone, take with them a defective gun to commit that act?

    And the prosecution’s assertion that Rorrer fired one shot at Joann, found the gun to jam and consequently had to finish the act by bludgeoning her to death. This seems to be the scenario accepted by the jury and just about everyone else who believes her to be guilty.

    A more credible possibility would be that the murderer started to bludgeon the victim and then apply the coup de grace by firing one shot from a perfectly working gun. That would seem a more logical way a killer would operate. This then would completely destroy the prosecution’s fanciful theory about a “jamming gun”!

    They had to find a reason why the (defective) gun was used in order to implicate Rorrer.

    No one has ever conclusively stated whether the gun was fired before the victim was battered, or after.

    Why on earth did the defence team not challenge that?

    It seems to me there were a number of critical issues the defence should have questioned – but for reasons known only to them, didn’t.

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    3 weeks ago from California

    Clifford,

    Unfortunately that was the latest I could find. It was from when Tammy Mal was doing interviews for her book. Everything involving the justice system seems to happen so slowly, I doubt things have stopped. And organizations like this generally have a bunch of cases they're dealing with.

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    Clifford Freeman 

    3 weeks ago

    I notice your final paragraph titled "Hope for Patricia Rorrer" has the exact same words as on another web page.....

    It all appears very encouraging for her, but I then noticed that particular article was posted in November 2017! That's a long time ago, so was wondering if anything positive ever came of that "gathering of support" or is it "work still in progress"... or has it all come to a fullstop?

    If support for her by this illustrious group has dried up, it would be a shame. I wonder if she ever will see justice.

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    J Jahan 

    3 weeks ago from California

    Clifford Freeman,

    I think it was shameful for the jury to arrive at a guilty verdict in two hours when someone's life was on the line. It wasn't asking too much of them when they held someone's life in their hands to thoroughly go over all the facts of the case. If they did, I think they would have arrived at a different conclusion because a lot of the evidence simply did not fit the prosecution theory.

    People are often afraid to admit our justice system is so badly broken that there are tens of thousands of innocent people in prison. It's scary to accept that because if it could happen to them, it could happen to any of us. It's easier to pretend mistakes can't be made or that police and prosecutors can't be corrupt. It's comforting to believe that if people are in prison, it's because they deserve to be there.

    I came across this quote recently in a ProPublica article and it really is frightening to realize how unjust our justice system can be.

    "Wrongful convictions are so widespread that writing about cases one by one feels like using a butter knife to break up an iceberg."

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    Clifford Freeman 

    4 weeks ago

    Your article is a thoroughly enjoyable read and I’m in total agreement with all you have to say.

    From day one, I’ve believed this unfortunate woman to be innocent. I have read Tammy Mal’s book on this case which makes a powerful and compelling reinforcement of that belief.

    Regarding the jury members on this trial, let’s not beat around the bush with carefully chosen words which would make it seem they were doing their duty in an honest and objective manner. Given all the facts, doubts, innuendo, fabricated scenarios, corruption and just plain lies presented at this trial, for them to have taken just two hours to arrive at their guilty verdict simply points to them as being gullible, thoughtless and devoid of commonsense. It demonstrates they were of a mind to convict long before they retired to deliberate. The jury member featured on Keith Morrison’s show as good as confirmed that... he actually said their decision to convict was “because there were too many coincidences”! Like that’s a line of “reasoning” to reach a decision which then convicts someone to a life term in prison. Not facts, but coincidences! Coincidence does not mean FACT, which in turn translates as REASONABLE DOUBT and that should have been enough to acquit her.

    I’ve said it before and I reiterate, if this case is representative of how the justice system in America operates, then it is a cesspit of corruption and ineptitude. And this system seems to be wholly accepted by some who have commented here, and others in various forums who have made up their one-track minds, totally unwilling to give further consideration to valid facts or claims such as yours, Tammy Mal’s and those who care to enter their comments on this platform.

    I find it difficult to understand how some of these readers can be so easily persuaded, dogmatic and steadfast in their willingness to accept as gospel a case which so obviously is transparently unjust. There’s one who talks about “evidence” pointing to her guilt. He demands explanations and reasons at some of your comments but, very cutely, is happy to make a statement about “evidence” (most, if not all, of which has been refuted by you or Tammy Mal) without further elaboration. And then he has this one line sentence.... “You really do not know that.. it is just your feelings”! Can’t he get it through his almost impenetrable skull, we’re not talking “feelings”, it’s just plain “logic” ... I take it he does understand the meaning of that word. It’s not just the author’s opinion. It’s mine and thousands of others, which he will see if he takes the time to visit other forums. I must confess, sometimes I find it a real pain in the butt reading the rantings of these mindless morons.

    Then there’s another who it would appear has watched one (or more) documentary featuring this case – which clearly had no interest in broadcasting an unbiased account – and without question accepts its one-sided depiction of the investigation and trial. It’s already been explained why “the single hair, with root” appeared several years after the first DNA test, but this bozo seems to be incapable of reading, or understanding. He also fails to comprehend that the claims about anger management were malicious statements made by those, like himself, who wished a guilty verdict before the trial even began.

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    4 weeks ago from California

    Alison,

    I don't think Patricia ever had much chance to get a new trial. People who have been wrongfully convicted say that when you get into the system it's almost impossible to get out. The reason I wrote about her case is to hopefully educate people on the topic of wrongful convictions. Many people believe simplistic myths about criminal justice. One of those myths is that if DNA links you to a crime you must be guilty. But here's a case where DNA links someone to a crime and yet there's all this other stuff that raises reasonable doubt. And Patricia's jury didn't get to hear a lot of it.

    There was a case a few years back where DNA linked a homeless man to a murder. Turned out the guy was hospitalized at the time. What they figured out was that the paramedics who treated this guy also showed up to the murder. They transferred this homeless guy's DNA to the crime scene. It shows how easily an innocent person can get linked to a crime they didn't commit.

    People still think DNA is foolproof which is scary. For years DNA seemed to be exonerating the innocent. But there are increasing concerns that it's going to also end up putting innocent people behind bars. Juries have to be vigilant and like I say here, look at a case as a whole. Don't just say there's a DNA match, so they did it. Look at everything.

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    J Jahan 

    4 weeks ago from California

    Ebenezer,

    Out of curiosity, did you read my hub? Because I wrote hundreds of words addressing many of your points. As an example, I say in my hub why I find the location where the bodies were found suspicious. I bring up the insect expert who questioned if the bodies could really have been there since December. You're literally bringing up again things I've already answered. How about reading Mal's book if you genuinely want to know more. She does a really good job addressing many of the issues you bring up. On the cigarette topic though, Rorrer discussed wanting the cigarette tested with author Tammy Mal who spent years researching her case. It's in her book. That's how I know. It's actually in a book. It's hard going around and around with you when you're ignoring topics I've already addressed.

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    Alison 

    4 weeks ago

    In Convenient suspect, Mal makes a compelling case the victim's car could not have been used in the commission of the crime. That's enough to make any physical evidence matching Rorrer found in the car basically irrelevant. I didn't know about the cigarette match and it's really a pity because it effectively kills her chance to get a new trial which she deserves to get. There's plenty of stuff that came out after her conviction that if brought up to a new jury could win her freedom. Maybe she shouldn't have pushed to get that cigarette tested because what options does she have left. Other than her lawyers being able to make a case for fraud in the testing, it's over for her. From other cases of wrongful conviction we all know the authorities aren't above planting evidence. But I don't know if she could convince a judge of that. The standards of proof they require are too high and give the falsely accused very few options. I don't know if she's innocent but theres enough there I think she deserves another chance to make her case. Now outside of someone confessing to the crime, I don't see hope for her.

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    Ebaneezer 

    4 weeks ago

    Why do you believe her when she says she wanted the cigarette tested? Just because she says the lawyer convinced her to have the hair tested instead, it does not mean that is the conversation they actually had.

    As far as I know they did not have the technology yet. They actually held onto those hairs for a few years before the technology was ready to be used. THey held onto 6 hairs from the car, a couple of the same hairs next to the body, the cigarette butt.

    Multiple things were tested and they all were from her

    She was convicted.. the ONLY thing that would get her out is if the DNA came back as somebody else.. it was her ONLY hope..

    How certain are you of her innocence? What percentage?

    Why do you say I'm so focused on the DNA ( which is obviously huge that those hairs were found in the car and at the crime scene)

    but lets look at the other things that make her questionable:

    the bodies buried right near where she worked and on trials others know she rode. Very remote trails! I find this very high on the list.. not quite DNA.. but pretty close. But you don't really have anything to say about that one? Just going to call it coincidence? or part of the frame job?

    The next one that is HUGE and you are not mentioning. Her boyfriend said she had a 22 caliber gun that had an issue.. it would fire once and then jam. guess what happened? The mother was shot once and then beat with the gun after.. She claims she never owned a 22 caliber gun. Hmm.. how did that one match up?? what a coincidence

    - She was very familiar with the drive having done it multiple times a year.. she knows how long it would take to get up there

    - after they found the bodies, her mother asked another couple to hide a gun, which they refused and reported. It was likely not the gun used in murder.. but what kind of person does that and wants to hide a gun?

    - she was arrested for animal cruelty and for shoplifting.

    I'm too lazy to go through them all, but there is sooo much more than just DNA. LIke once juror said.. there were just waaaay too many coincidences with Patricia.

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    4 weeks ago from California

    Ebenezer,

    She had everything to lose if the DNA matched. There was no way she was ever going to get her conviction overturned if it did. If she knew she dropped a cigarette, why have it tested? Why assume it wouldn't point back to her? Why not choose alternate methods of challenging her conviction? Having the DNA tested was a big risk if she was indeed the killer. And why didn't the police test all this DNA before the trial if they were so sure she did do it?

    We've obviously both made up our minds. You're ignoring all the things that says she couldn't have done it. I'm focusing on many of the obvious problems with the case.

    As an example, two disconnected witnesses said they saw Joann and her husband Andy engaged in a heated argument on the day of the disappearances. The police looked into it. Andy's dad said Andy was with him all day. The dad is a biased alibi witness but it was good enough for the police.

    Multiple people said Patricia was in North Carolina including people who suspected she was in a horse stealing operation. These are unbiased alibi witnesses.

    The same cops who thought Andy's alibi was acceptable didn't think Patricia's was. I'm simply asking why. You don't seem to care why.

    People should only be convicted when guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. There's a ton of reasonable doubt in this case.

  • profile image

    Ebaneezer 

    4 weeks ago

    "It seems strange to me that she has continually pushed for DNA testing. If she committed the murders, she would have no reason to do this because obviously anything tested will match."

    She has EVERY reason in the world to ask for it. Why? Because she has NOTHING to lose! What do you think happens when they find it matches her? She is not going to be sentenced more or put in the chair... what is done is done. SHe has NOTHING to lose!

    Why would she NOT want things tested?

    Of course she wants everything tested, because there is the chance things could be contaminated and somebody elses' DNA also ends up on the hairs, etc.

    It's not just the DNA, it is everything else. There is a lot more than what you and i know of.

    You already have your mind made up even though you really don't know. I do BELIEVE she is guilty.. but your title says she IS innocent.

    You really do not know that.. it is just your feelings.

    You are asking for there to be a conspiracy theory. It's obvious were not going to agree here.. but I wish you noticed some of the logical fallacies you have said over and over.. We all make logical fallacies here and there.. but it is good to be aware of them when looking back at them. If you have no problem at all with any of your defense of her.. then that itself should be a warning to you

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    4 weeks ago from California

    Ebenezer,

    I looked up the info on the cigarette testing. The first thing Patricia asked to get tested was the fingernail which had skin attached. When it arrived at the lab, there was no longer any skin and couldn't be DNA tested. According to Patricia, when the judge checked the sample the skin was there. When it arrived at the lab, it wasn't.

    Patricia then pushed to get a hair found in Joann's hand tested. That didn't happen because the prosecution said that hair didn't belong to Patricia (although her jury never heard that).

    Patricia then had the choice of having a hair tested or the cigarette tested. Patricia wanted the cigarette tested. Her lawyer convinced her to have the hair tested. Hair which in the past was a one in 37,000 match became a perfect match. This brings up the obvious question of whether the hair was switched either deliberately or accidentally with one she provided as a sample.

    Then Patricia pushed to have the cigarette tested believing once again that a DNA test would exonerate only to find again there was a match.

    It seems strange to me that she has continually pushed for DNA testing. If she committed the murders, she would have no reason to do this because obviously anything tested will match. Testing DNA would only make her situation worse. If she didn't commit the murders, her continual push for DNA testing makes a lot of sense.

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    4 weeks ago from California

    Ebenezer,

    People who are experts in DNA evidence say DNA alone should never be used to convict someone. Why?

    DNA can be contaminated

    DNA can be misinterpreted

    DNA can be fabricated (if you know someone's DNA profile)

    DNA can degrade over time

    DNA can transfer from one place to another

    DNA can be planted

    All of this makes DNA unreliable. So experts say DNA alone shouldn't be enough to send someone to prison. It should be a piece of a puzzle and nothing more.

    What else ties Patricia to the crime?

    Eyewitnesses (no one saw her or anyone unusual hanging around the area, she's a tall woman and not easily missed, no one saw her van)

    Why did multiple eyewitnesses claim to see sightings of Joann around the time of the disappearances but not Patricia?

    Did she lack an alibi? (No, multiple people placed her in NC)

    Was she under surveillance in NC? (the woman who investigated Patricia for animal abuse led surveillance that spanned the whole time police claimed Patricia was in Pennsylvania. She documented the surveillance. How could Patricia have been in PA and NC at the same time)

    Did anyone notice she suddenly disappeared for days without warning? (no)

    When the police interviewed her about Joann's disappearance, were there any signs she had just been in a violent struggle? (no)

    Did a weapon match her to the crime? (no)

    Did anyone notice her buying supplies for a long trip? (no)

    Did Patricia ever express anger or jealously toward Joann to anyone? (no, her friends said she seemed happy and content at the time.

    Did she have some issues in her past? (yes, even she doesn't deny that but she didn't have a history of behaving violently toward people who offended her)

    I've actually never seen Patricia being interviewed but I've read extensively about the case.

    Your starting point is there was a DNA match, therefore she must have done it. You ignore everything that says she couldn't have done it. And again, DNA experts say DNA alone shouldn't be used to convict someone because it can be unreliable.

    I'm looking at everything taking into account what says she did do it and what says she didn't.

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    Ebaneezer 

    4 weeks ago

    Try Youtube search for " sealed with a kiss" ( a good example)

    It is about a teacher that was harassed by another teacher... but a little more interesting than just that.

    People often feel they can tell when somebody is lying or not, but that is a TERRIBLE thing to believe. The only thing you can do is follow the evidence.. and in the case of Patricia.. there was so much evidence against her.

    I can see why some people listen to her speak and think... well, she sure does sound innocent.. it's wrong to think somebody is not guilty simply because of what they say and/or look.

  • profile image

    Ebaneezer 

    4 weeks ago

    Why do people have to have recognized her? How do you know she did not dress as somebody else the whole time? Also, its not like people would have seen her as being suspicious.. it's not like they knew she was there to kill somebody.

    How do you explain the cigarette butts? Are you assuming that somebody wanted to frame her in particular? Why would they do that? The evidence was gathered in two locations- the body and the car.. the hairs in the car were Patricia's hair mixed with blood from the victims.

    Also- so bodies just happened to be dumped right near where Patricia worked and the EXACT trails she rode her horses through?

    She lost her child.. why is it so unreasonable to think she has deep hatred inside of her and wanted to see somebody else suffer?

    She never said she wanted to the cigarette tested. She had a choice on what to be tested, it makes you wonder why she would not choose the cigarette right there.. why not?

    She also has a history.. including animal abuse.

    Can I ask why you are so convinced she is innocent? Is it her calm demeanor in her phone calls from jail? Is it the fact she did not want to plead guilty and risked the death penalty? People often think that is a sign of innocence; why would somebody risk death penalty when they can guarantee only 20 years in jail? IT's pretty simple-... because she felt she could win and there was no way they could prove she did it.

    There are A LOT of people that have a lot more to do with the case that are certain she did it; including the 12 jurors .. that is not to say people do not get things wrong, but in this case there was plenty more evidence showing her guilt than what you and I got to see on the TV shows.

    Don't let her fool you. There are a lot of people that SOUND innocent.. that does not mean they are

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    4 weeks ago from California

    Nic,

    I would also say if she was planning ahead, she would have placed the bodies somewhere that didn't lead back to her. That's always been a big red flag to me. She knew that area well enough that those woods should have been the last place to leave the bodies. The more I learn about this case, the more questionable it becomes.

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    Nic 

    4 weeks ago

    In response to Ebaneezer, either this crime was well planned or it wasn't. Your saying she packed up her van with sleeping supplies, gas and food, (and tools to break into the house.) But if she was putting that kind of planning in, isn't it interesting she didn't get her van fixed. The call to Joanne happened on Dec. 7, she left on Dec. 12 but then fixed her van on Dec. 17. I think someone planning ahead would fix their vehicle to avoid having it break down when they're fleeing a murder scene. I think someone planning a murder would get a gun that worked. You'd also think if she was planning ahead it would have occur to her to tie up her hair and wear a cap. I'm not completely convinced of her innocence. I'm 25% she did it. 75% she didn't. Ok, the DNA matched. But Rorrer's attorneys have always said she was framed and the evidence against her was tampered with. There are enough things with this case that don't add up that it isn't invalid to question if she could be innocent.

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    4 weeks ago from California

    Ebenezer,

    I have read that and of course it comes from people who are intent on keeping her in prison. I think it's strange that Patricia would have pushed so hard to get the cigarette butt tested if she knew it was hers and as you probably know crime labs are not above making mistakes. People with power also aren't above corruption unfortunately so we can't just blindly believe what they say. I've tried to look at this case as a whole taking into account what makes her look guilty and what makes her look innocent.

    "ou make comments about her driving 500 miles and act like she needs to sleep at a hotel, eat food, get gas.. and for some reason you don't think she could have 1) slept in her car 2) brought food 3) brought gas.. which, btw.. if you planned to kill somebody and had time to think about it.. people would think that way"

    Keep in mind this was in December. And she apparently spent five days in the area. Where was she parked all that time? How come no one noticed anything out of the ordinary? We can assume she waited a few days to carry out the killing because she was monitoring the Katrinak home? How come no one saw her? Where was her car parked for the seven hours she spent in the Katrinak home? How come no one saw her when she parked Joann's car in a busy area and then walked to wherever her own car was parked? Outside of having invisibility powers, it's hard to see how she pulled this crime off. And how did the people surveilling her in NC not notice she was gone? There are a ton of things about this case that simply don't make any sense.

    "Also.. she had land there and horses, so she was driving up there multiple times a year. It was not crazy at all for her!"

    The question is was she in the area in December 1994? Multiple people saw Joann around this time but no one saw Patricia. That raises a lot of questions. How could she have been there for five whole days without being noticed?

    "Just look into it a bit further and then see if you feel the same way"

    The more I look into it the more nonsensical the case against her seems and the more confusing everything becomes. Thanks for your comment. It's definitely a weird and interesting case.

  • profile image

    Ebaneezer 

    4 weeks ago

    You should check out:

    https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4438028/com-...

    It has a pretty good run down of all the things proving her guilt.

    I bet you did not know the cigarette next to the body was also tested and proved to be the killers ( patricia)

    These shows have one goal.. to get you to watch. They are not there to prove guilt or innocence, but they very much want you to question if a person is guilty or not.

    You make comments about her driving 500 miles and act like she needs to sleep at a hotel, eat food, get gas.. and for some reason you don't think she could have 1) slept in her car 2) brought food 3) brought gas.. which, btw.. if you planned to kill somebody and had time to think about it.. people would think that way

    Also.. she had land there and horses, so she was driving up there multiple times a year. It was not crazy at all for her!

    She is guilty. Just because she says she is not and sticks by her claims that she is innocent.. it does not make her innocent!

    Just look into it a bit further and then see if you feel the same way

  • profile image

    Vicky 

    4 weeks ago

    Forensic evidence is only as good as the tech examining it. She's innocent.

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    5 weeks ago from California

    Ms. Sim,

    The animal thing is a big question mark for me as well. Unfortunately, Convenient Suspect doesn't address it. I'd loved to know what an expert on this topic would say because I question if the bodies were far better preserved than they should have been. It's one of the many things with this case that doesn't pass the smell test.

    I find the amount of people who witnessed things relevant to the case who the jury never heard from stunning. I question how much investigation Patricia's lawyers did to prepare for her trial. If Patricia got a new trial I think she would be acquitted because so many things don't match the prosecution's theory. Also, we now know that DNA isn't foolproof and the technique used to match hair DNA to Patricia has since been discredited. Lawyers today would be far better equipped to rip the DNA evidence in this case to shreds.

  • profile image

    Ms. Sim 

    5 weeks ago

    Patty should request a new trial based on ineffective counsel. She has a strong argument for it. Her case went to trial too quickly for her defense team to properly rebut the prosecution case. The jury didn't know Patty was under surveillance in NC during the time she was said to be in Penn. People were following her around and taking notes during those five days. That right there completely destroys the prosecution case.

    The jury never heard from witneses who say Joann's car was parked in the lot where it was found at noon. The car was in that lot a whole two hours before Patty was said to have carried out the kidnapping. It was found in that same spot that night. It was there the whole day. Again, the prosecutions case would have been completely destroyed.

    Another problem. How the heck could the bodies have been hidden under a thin layer of leaves for four months without being eaten by scavengers. Ravenous foxes, coyotes, vultures and and even deer will eat dead human bodies. Even dogs and cats will. Animals could turn a body into a skeleton in a few months. Snow would have covered the bodies for 3 - 4 weeks at most. The rest of the time they would have been exposed to hungry animals. From what I know, the defense didn't bring this up either.

  • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

    J Jahan 

    5 weeks ago from California

    Robin,

    I completely understand why you feel that way. Many people mistakenly think DNA evidence is infallible. If DNA says someone did it, then they did it. All the evidence showing they couldn't have done it becomes irrelevant. But thanks to human error, DNA can actually be very unreliable. Something as simple as a lab tech mistakenly mixing up a hair sample willingly provided by the suspect with a sample taken from the crime scene can condemn an innocent person. There have been cases where someone who committed a minor crime got slapped with charges for a serious crime when lab techs mixed up DNA samples. So, no, a DNA match is not indisputable evidence of guilt. It's important to look at evidence as a whole.

    For anyone who's interested in why DNA evidence can be so unreliable, I recommend the Atlantic article "The False Promise of DNA Testing: The forensic technique is becoming ever more common-and ever less reliable."

    One thing that people who were wrongly convicted but later exonerated say is that when you're charged with a crime, minor things become blown out of proportion. Everyone loses their temper but if you're charged with a crime times you got angry take on huge significance even though most people who have anger issues wouldn't kill someone. It's very important that we all have a healthy skepticism when it comes to criminal cases to avoid condemning the innocent.

    Mistakes could happen to any of us as this blurb from the book Actual Innocence shows.

    "... a horrible crime is committed in your neighborhood, and the police knock at your door. A witness swears you are the perpetrator; you have no alibi, and no one believes your protestations of innocence. You're convicted, sentenced to hard time in maximum security, or even death row, where you await the executioner's needle."

  • profile image

    Robin 

    5 weeks ago

    She's guilty. She's got serious anger management problems. There was a single hair with a root, however, the others without a root were better used since they couldn't repeat a test on a single root hair. The others were tested and the DNA is indisputable. Get a grip folks. This whack job chick killed an innocent mom and certainly an innocent baby boy. She deserves to live in a PA jail till her demise.

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