Anchorage Cold Cases: Mother of teen murdered in 1978 still searches for answers

 Article on death of Shelley Connolly
Article on death of Shelley Connolly (KTUU)
Published: Nov. 11, 2016 at 3:02 PM AKST
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At age 16 Shelley Connolly liked to roller skate, have sleepovers and occasionally break the rules to party. Her mom Judy Connolly, says she was a typical teen in 1978.

Her life was cut short by a brutal murder that still haunts her mother decades later.

"She's probably thinking mom where are ya?," says Connolly. "That's sorta time that I get choked up like, because a mother's always supposed to be there to protect her children."

On January 7, 1978 Shelley's body was found alongside the Seward Highway near milepost 109. She had been raped, beaten, dragged from a moving car and left to die near the railroad. She eventually died from internal bleeding, but not before she tried to climb the embankment for help, according to her mother.

"It definitely had a very sobering effect in our life meaning that a lot of joy and laughter went out for quite a while," says Connolly.

The Connolly family hoped Shelley's attackers would be brought to justice but, at the time, the crime got little media attention. Sketches of two suspects were buried in the local paper and the story never once made the front page. Nearly 40 years later, there still hasn't been anyone charged with the murder.

The Anchorage Crime Stoppers webpage lists a man who goes by the name "pinkie" as a suspect possibly living in the Kenai area at the time.

Judy Connolly is open to discussing what happened to her daughter in the hopes that it'll help close the case. Although she has come to terms with the fact that the case may not be closed during her lifetime.

"I've come to the conclusion that in my lifetime I'm sure I won't know," says Connolly. "Hopefully my family will find closure and I guess when I leave this old world then there will be answer."

If you have information about the case you can provide it anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 561-STOP or 561-7867. Tips can also be left online at