High school friend Roseanne Spina hopes justice will be served more than five decades after being brutally killed
When two high schools located on either side of the railroad tracks in Syracuse, New York, merged in the 1960s to form a brand new school, some students were concerned.
Vivian Jakway Quinones and her friend and classmate Roseanne Spina grew up on the poor side of the train tracks, âthe slums,â she described.
âThey thought we were gangs and we thought they were rich snobs,â she laughed. âBut it wasn’t like that at all. We have become close. And then when Roseanne was killed, I thinkâ¦ this tragedy brought everyone together.
Today, almost 55 years later, there are not many of these students left. Those who are still there are good friends. And are planning their next 55th high school reunion.
But there is one person who has never been to a reunion, but her friends and classmates still fondly remember her.
âWe spoke to her last night,â Vivian told Dateline, referring to her last planning meeting for the meeting. “Her family and other close friends are long gone, but we never want the fond memory of her to fade.”
Vivian said she remembers her friend who was pretty, polite, petite, but also tough, strong and independent. And when a dozen fire trucks responded to the school, Vivian said they were the reason.
âThis is my favorite story about Roseanne to tell,â Vivian said. “And that’s the one that makes me smile.”
She went on to tell Dateline that Roseanne was having trouble retrieving a female product from the dispenser in the female toilet, so she called Vivian to help her.
âI had long, thin fingers so she thought I could help her,â she said with a laugh. “But it didn’t work and oh, it backfired on him.”
Vivian said her hand got stuck and after several classmates and a teacher tried to help her unsuccessfully, the fire department was called.
âOh, you should have seen the commotion,â she exclaimed. âThe firefighters arrived in their truck, one after the other, sirens and lights on, because it’s a school, you know, they take it very seriously. And here they are all with their yellow oilskins. And there’s Roseanne, just amused by the chaos she’s caused.
Vivian added that it was one of her favorite memories of her friend.
âShe came from the slums, on the wrong side of the tracks,â Vivian said with a laugh. âThis girl could manage. She was as hard as she was soft.
Vivian’s tone of voice changed as she spoke about how her friend must have felt when she was attacked in September 1967.
“I know she fought,” she said. âI know she fought with everything she had. She did not fall without a fight.
Vivian told Dateline that Roseanne went out with friends on September 22, 1967, the night she disappeared. She told her mother she was going to spend the night at a friend’s house, but instead they went to a bar. According to a Syracuse Police report, Roseanne was last seen leaving a bar called Rinaldi’s on Burnet Avenue around 3 a.m. on September 23.
She was never seen again.
Vivian said she recalled finding out her friend had disappeared through word of mouth and Roseanne’s mother reported her missing even though she had not returned home. But in Vivian’s mind, everything would be fine.
That all changed on Monday, September 25, when a passerby discovered a body in vacant gravel land on the 700 block of Canal Street, near the train tracks. It was Roseanne.
According to the Star-Gazette, a local New York newspaper, the 17-year-old was found in the tall grass. She had been raped and appeared to have been strangled with her panties. Roseanne had been dead for 24 hours before her body was found, according to the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The newspaper also reported that the friend with Roseanne that evening told police she left the bar around 3 a.m. and as she saw Roseanne talking with a few young men on the sidewalk, she had gone home alone. At the time, the police wanted to interview more teenagers who might have been in contact with Roseanne that night, but were unsuccessful.
Details of his case, which remains an active investigation, are being posted on the Syracuse Police Department’s Cold Case unit website and urging those with information to contact them.
Vivian is still hoping that someone will bring some information about her friend’s murder, or that the new DNA technology will bring the killer to justice.
She added that the tragedy had shocked their city and that no one was ever quite the same.
âOh, that was awful, just awful. The previous Easter, I had lost my mother, âsaid Vivian. âBut most of us had never been touched by death. And this – this brutal murder. Someone so young. It was more than any of us could understand.
For 55 years, Vivian has thought about her friend and classmate, wondering if she would ever see a newspaper clipping or a breaking news bulletin on television about an arrest. But it didn’t happen.
Roseanne’s parents and siblings are all deceased, her brother Jack just in the last few years.
âIt was really him who kept fighting to find his killer,â Vivian said. “I’m afraid this will end with him.”
She added that she wasn’t sure what could be done all these years later, but she continues to share Roseanne’s story, especially around this time of year, in the hopes that someone one manifests.
âIt won’t bring her back,â Vivian said. “But she deserves justice anyway – and her soul deserves to be at peace.”
Anyone with information on Roseanne’s case is urged to contact the Cold Homicide Squad of the Syracuse Police Department at (315) 442-5234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All advice will be kept confidential.