Witnesses In Cold Case Murder Fight Subpoenas

The investigation into a cold case murder has been heating up. But a suspicious legal delay in another state may be standing in the way of solving the vicious killing of a teenager in 1969.

For 45 years a family has prepared for Thanksgiving knowing a loved one won't be there.

The victim's cousin, Kathy Tull said, ”We could have been spending time with her and her family that she never got a chance to have."

Mary Kay Hesse was just 17-years-old when stabbed more than a dozen times. Her body was left along a lonely country road outside Wahoo,Nebraska in 1969.

But Saunders County authorities have two persons of interest who lived in the area then and moved away. Both have been subpoenaed before a grand jury which is encouraging news for the victim’s family.

Another cousin, Carole Tramner said, "It makes me wonder if they're getting closer. If people know things or people are starting to talk."

The case relies on more than forensics but also testimony from persons of interest and their relatives who may have heard incriminating secrets. So Nebraska investigators served two subpoenas in Florida and five in Pennsylvania.

Fact Finders has learned the five witnesses in Pennsylvania refused to accept those subpoenas and while they challenge them in the legal system there, the grand jury in Wahoo has been postponed not once but twice.

That's frustrating news for the murder victim's family already waiting 45 years for justice.

Kathy Tull said, ”Why would they be doing this and dragging it on? Somebody knows something that they don't want to come out."

Another holiday without Mary Kay but her last letter, written in 1969, is at the family table. Reading the letter - the cousin who received it, Jerry Miller, said, ”It really does bring back memories of fun growing up together."

Relatives hope subpoenas will eventually be honored and a grand jury seated so maybe at the next family gathering they'll be reading an indictment naming suspects in the murder of a teenager taken from them 45 years ago.

Fact Finders has send email and left messages for the district attorney and judges in Uniontown and Washington, Pennsylvania. None have responded with an explanation why five grand jury subpoenas from Nebraska have been held up in the legal system there for eight months.