Catherine Blackburn: A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Kate and Aunt

When it comes to investigating Cold Cases, whether you're a member of law enforcement sorting through a case file, an academic analyzing components of the crime, or a reporter stringing together important information, there's one element that must be kept in mind at all times: context.

Catherine Blackburn was found beaten and stabbed to death in the unoccupied upstairs apartment in her Colonie Street home in Albany on September 14, 1964. While Albany Police Detectives at the time went to great lengths to investigate her brutal murder, the case went cold. 55 years later, Albany Police Sergeant Melissa O'Donovan, Dr. Christina Lane, students of the Cold Case Analysis Center and I are focusing our attention on Kate's case, looking at the details through the lens of 2019.

While it's important to re-evaluate her case using modern day techniques and tactics, we have to understand the context of her lifetime. What life was like for a 50 year old woman in Albany in the 1960's, what the general climate of the time period was like and what was happening in the world that affected the life of Kate as well as the people around her.

In this episode, we speak to John J. McEneny, a State Assemblymen for 20 years, a fourth generation Albanian and an Albany historian to better understand the time Kate lived in.

We discuss Kate's life. How she was a devout Catholic, married but living separately from her husband, how she worked her way up to foreman at The Mohawk Brush Company, and owned her own home. We also introduce Kate's boyfriend of 16 years, and how her family was unaware of his existence until her funeral.

We detail the last week of Kate's life and how she found a tenant for her vacant upstairs apartment, a tenant that gave her a bad feeling.

Photo: Catherine's family members

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