In South Nyack, a 40-year-old question remains: who killed Florence Kalbach?
The mystery of who brutally murdered the 84-year-old resident may finally see elucidation, with currently peering into the cold case homicide that was reopened this past August. Authorities will inspect evidence collected at the scene decades ago and process it using new, advanced forensic techniques.
"There's a chance the evidence could yield DNA," explained Robert Van Cura, South Nyack-Grand View's police chief. Van Cura said items like hair recovered at the crime scene—which was of little use at the time—may now shed light on the case.
The murder occurred on May 24, 1971 in South Nyack's Tower House, a sprawling residence located on the corner of Cedar Hill and Broadway. A rooming house at the time, Kalbach ran the establishment despite her age and poor eyesight; a Nyack periodical that reported on the homicide described her as a "nearly-blind widow."
Kalbach's murder was gruesome—police who arrived at the scene found the elderly woman strangled with one of her own scarves. Her face was bruised heavily, and she had a knife wound across her throat, according to reports. The murderer had poured wine on her body to make her appear inebriated and possibly responsible for her own death, authorities noted.
Police quickly narrowed in on motives. An easy target, Kalbach often collected rents in cash—and the murderer may have believed she kept the monies on hand. The crime scene, her room, was ransacked; drawers were toppled over.
Police at first believed they had nabbed the murderer, but the suspect was later cleared. Nyack Patch's history blogger, , wrote about the case in the Nyack Villager a few years ago:
"A few days after the investigation began, the authorities arrested an 18-year-old high school dropout for the murder," Leiner recalled. "Tall, slim Kenneth Hansen from Valley Cottage lived in a rented room at the Tower House... He admitted to burglarizing the apartment but denied he killed Mrs. Kalbach. The evidence was circumstantial, centering mostly on hairs found around the body. The jury found Hansen innocent of the murder."
Van Cura noted the case's reopening was based partially on luck. Authorities originally could not locate the evidence in the archives, and it was only during a search for another case's evidence that the Kalbach items materialized.
DNA will be investigators' cardinal tool this time around—Van Cura said Kalbach did not have many remaining family members at the time of the murder, and none of her relatives currently remain in South Nyack. "We'll see if there are people [close to the case] that are still around to talk to," he added.
The DNA will be sent to the state police lab, Van Cura said, and compared with other perpetrator profiles already in the system. Van Cura said police also have a handful of leads—there was a group of brothers in South Nyack during the 70s who were convicted of other murders and are still serving time. One of them could be the culprit, Van Cura explained.
To read about other unsolved murders in the Nyack region, click .