Upstate Unsolved Investigates Two Decades-Old Albany County Murders

Ruth Catherine

For the second season of Upstate Unsolved, we dive decades into the past to bring the murders of two Albany women into the spotlight.

On September 14, 1964, family members of Catherine Blackburn, a 50-year-old devout Catholic from Albany, found her stabbed to death in the vacant upstairs apartment of her Colonie Street home.

On December 8, 1959, a South Colonie School bus driver was driving his route on Sand Creek Road when he spotted what he thought was a body in a ditch on the side of the road. He drove to a nearby residence and called police. When officers arrived they found the body of 18-year-old Ruth Whitman, beaten face down in a creek.

Catherine and Ruth lived their lives at opposite ends of the spectrum. Catherine owned her own home, had a steady productive job and lived a life of routine dictated by Catholic values. Ruth came from a broken family, was unemployed and lived with her boyfriend in an impoverished area of the city.

Although their life experiences differed, they met the same fate. Their unsolved homicides boxed away, buried under years of new and unsolved crimes, their memories only carried by their loved ones.

In this season, in partnership with The Cold Case Analysis Center at The College of Saint Rose and with the support of the Albany Police Department and the Colonie Police Department, we explore the lives and murders of these two women, how our culture has changed, how the struggles women face have both improved and yet, in some cases remained the same, and how homicide investigations have evolved over the course of the last 60 years.

It's our goal at Upstate Unsolved to bring Catherine and Ruth back into the spotlight. It's never too late to find answers, catch a killer, and bring justice to these women no longer forgotten.

Photo (Left): Ruth Whitman - NYSP

Photo (Right): Catherine Blackburn - Family Members

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