In the early morning hours of March 21, 2003, Ramona "Mona" Krotine left an office party just outside Cleveland, Ohio, and was never seen alive again. Nearly 24 hours later, she was found in the trunk of her car, beaten and shot to death.
Who killed this wife and mother? Correspondent Susan Spencer reports.
Greg Wilczewski remembers the day he learned of his sister's disappearance. "I think it was a Thursday. My wife answered the phone, 'Hey, we've got an emergency, Ramona is missing.'"
Greg jumped in his car and began searching for his sister, fearing the worst. Hours later, he headed to a parking lot where, from the corner of his eye, he spotted his sister's Toyota Camry. He dialed 9-1-1.
Greg had no keys, but used a pipe wrench to shatter the car's window.
"I reached into the trunk latch and pulled up on that," Greg remembers. Then he saw his sister.
"Mona! She's in the God-damned trunk!," he told the 9-1-1 dispatcher. "She's cold."
The death of his sister still haunts Greg. "It's been like two and a half years. I miss her a lot. Still miss her."
Investigators believe Ramona Krotine was murdered in her own home by her husband. "We firmly believe he killed his wife," says Cuyahoga County Prosecutor William Mason.
That belief is partially based on blood evidence. "We found a trail of Ramona's blood. It started in the master bedroom, through the laundry room, into the garage," says Detective Timothy Robinson.
After his wife's death, the detective says Krotine made several changes in the home. "Anything that Jeffrey Krotine thought he got blood on, he altered. He got either rid of it or changed it, painted it or threw it out."
Krotine's daughter Jennifer says she was home that night but didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary. And she believes in her father's innocence.
Indicted for murdering Ramona, 53, Jeff Krotine has always maintained his innocence. "My life since my wife's death has stopped. It's like I'm in a twilight zone," Krotine says.
Two juries had deliberated Krotine's guilt or innocence but both trials ended in hung juries. Now, a third jury was being selected.
Ramona Krotine was murdered on March 21, 2003 in suburban Cleveland, where she and Jeff had raised their three kids.
"Ramona? She was always smiling, always helping people out. Growing up, she was a tough act to follow, she was so good," recalls her brother Greg who with his sibling Roger portrayed the Wilczewskis as a tight-knit clan.
Patty Wilczewski adds that Mona was the perfect sister-in-law. "Whenever you needed something, Mona knew either how to do it, how to get it or who to ask," she says, adding "We used to call this family the Waltons."
How did Jeff fit into the Waltons? "Like a square peg in a round hole," says Roger.
By 2003, the couple's oldest son Jeff Jr. was married; middle son Jason, a Marine, was in the Middle East; and daughter Jennifer was away at college.
The Krotine house was empty and Mona and Jeff were alone but hardly together. "It was as if they just had developed different lives," says Sharon.
Jeff worked long hours at his insurance agency and, when not there, was often out on the water, sailing.
Mona, meanwhile, loved people and reveled in her part-time job, managing concession stands at Cleveland's busy convention hall, the IX Center.
- Unraveling the lies of Jodi Arias
- The War in Chicago
- Preview: "48 Hours" double feature
- Murder at Sea?
- Over the Edge
- The mind of a killer: Unraveling the lies of Jodi Arias
- Murder at Sea? The disappearance of George Smith
- Everything to Lose
- "48 Hours Mystery:" Rodney Alcala's Killing Game
- Muscle and Mayhem
- The real story behind Miami's murderous Sun Gym gang
- "48 Hours" Program Schedule
- Power and Passion
- The Writing on the Wall
- Did California chef David Viens kill, then cook wife?
- My Dad's Killer