Wednesday, July 24, 2024

After 40 Years, Princess Doe Mystery Solved

A four-decade mystery that has captured the attention of Blairstown-area residents has finally been solved with the identification of Princess Doe and the arrest of her alleged killer.

Exactly 40 years to the day that Cedar Ridge Cemetery worker George Kise discovered the body of an unidentified young woman, authorities on Thursday announced that they had identified the victim as Dawn Olanick, who was 17 when she disappeared from Long Island in New York.

In addition, authorities said they have filed first-degree murder charges against a New York man who is currently in prison for murder.

At a press conference at Blairstown Town Hall that was attended by several members of Ms. Olanick’s family, Warren County Prosecutor James Pfeiffer said investigators were finally able to crack the cold case this year using advancements in DNA testing.

According to Pfeiffer, Princess Doe was positively identified in late April after years of various DNA testing methods in a process that began in 2007.

“DNA technology and genetic genealogy have made what was impossible, possible,” he said.

Arthur Kinlaw courtesy of the Warren County Prosecutor's Office
Photo of Arthur Kinlaw courtesy of the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office

Authorities also announced that they have charged Arthur Kinlaw in connection with Ms. Olanick’s death. Mr. Kinlaw, who authorities said had claimed as early as 2005 that he had killed the woman found in Cedar Ridge, is currently serving a sentence in Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, N.Y. , for two first-degree murder convictions in 2000.

Princess Doe’s 1982 murder shocked the Blairstown community, which adopted the young woman as one of its own. Princess Doe was laid to rest in Cedar Ridge Cemetery in January 1983, just yards from where her body was found months before, with the citizens of Blairstown paying for her headstone and burial.

At the press conference, a family member who identified himself as a cousin of Ms. Olanick expressed the family’s gratitude for the community’s efforts over the years.

“I’d like to thank Blairstown for really treating my cousin like she was one of their own,” said the man, who was 13 when Ms. Olanick disappeared. “It touches our family. I can’t tell you how much it touches me.”

Prosecutor Pfeiffer credited numerous individuals and law-enforcement agencies, as well as several outside organizations, for their dogged pursuit in solving the decades-long mystery.

“For over 40 years law enforcement has not given up on Princess Doe,” he said. “Detectives have come and gone during that 40-year period, and all of them had the same determination to get justice for Princess Doe.”

“She was not abandoned, she was never forgotten, and she is and always will be part of this community,” Pfeiffer said, adding that a 40-year journey of discovery for Princess Doe’s identification “ends today.”