Local author finds possible new evidence in 20 year old murder case

Tammy Malinowski O’Reilly of Union Dale is a True Crime writer, writing under the name “Tammy Mal.” Her research into the 1994 Katrinak murders in Catasauqua has potentially uncovered new evidence in the case

BY REGGE EPISALE
Correspondent

Tammy Malinowski O’Reilly of Union Dale is a True Crime writer, writing under the name “Tammy Mal.” Her research into the 1994 Katrinak murders in Catasauqua has potentially uncovered new evidence in the case

Tammy Malinowski O’Reilly of Union Dale is a True Crime writer, writing under the name “Tammy Mal.” Her research into the 1994 Katrinak murders in Catasauqua has potentially uncovered new evidence in the case

Tammy Malinowski O’Reilly of Union Dale, has loved crime stories since she was 6-years-old.

When she read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood at the age of 10, she was totally hooked.

O’Reilly started writing her own stories while in grade school and wrote her first full-length novel when she was 15 years old.

Her love of solving crimes led her to apply for and be accepted into the Pennsylvania State Police Academy but as a young mother, she realized the obligations were too much for her family and left.

But her passion for writing and True Crime stayed with her.

O’Reilly never believed she was good enough to publish and kept her stories locked away.

Then, from 1989 to 1991, she had stories published in True Detective Magazine under the name “Tammy Mal.” At the age of 47, 40 years after she first fell in love with her genre, she self-published her first book, “Little Girl Lost: The True Story of the Vandling Murder,” a well-researched book about the murder of 9-year-old Mae Barrett in 1945.

Following that book, O’Reilly wrote for Absolute Crime Publishing and in 2013, self-published “Disposable Income: A True Story of Sex, Greed, and Im-purr-fect Murder,” about the murder of Anna Homeyer of Factoryville, in 1945.

In 2014 she released “Tortured Minds: Pennsylvania’s Most Bizarre—But Forgotten—Murders,” a collection of little known murders from the 1930s.
O’Reilly has been interviewed on “You Be the Judge” and has been invited to speak at libraries, historical societies and local book clubs.
Since 2010, Tammy has been researching the 1994 Katrinak murders in Catasauqua.

Joann Katrinak and her infant son were brutally murdered. Patricia Rorrer, an ex-girlfriend of Joann’s husband, was found guilty of the crimes and sentenced to life in prison.

When O’Reilly started doing the research, she believed Patricia (Patty) had been proven guilty and had committed the crimes.
Six years of research later, she isn’t so sure.

Joann’s family was unwilling to speak with O’Reilly. After she wrote them a letter asking for an interview she was contacted not by the family, but by the officer who investigated the case and was told: “Nobody wants you digging into this case, and no one is going to cooperate with you. No one wants this case brought back up. The family just wants to be left alone.”

O’Reilly felt bad about opening old wounds and considered not writing the book until she saw a recent episode of “On the Case with Paula Zahn,” entitled Driven to Kill.

“The episode recounted the Katrinak murders and there, appearing regularly on-screen to discuss the crime and those involved, were members of Joann’s family as well as several of the original officers who worked the case…so much for no one wanting the case brought back up.”

Although the family didn’t want to talk to the writer, Patty Rorrer did.

“From her very first letter, Patricia fervently protested her innocence and urged me to keep an open mind. I promised her that I would and assured her I’d investigate the case to the best of my ability, but I gave her a warning as well. ‘I’ll follow the evidence wherever it leads,’ I told her, ‘but if it leads me to conclude you’re guilty, I’ll write the book that way.’ Patricia immediately wrote back and said that was fine.”

From more than 10,000 official documents including Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) reports, FBI Files, forensic lab results, and the 6,500-page trial transcript, four years of intensive research, countless interviews with those involved, and hundreds of letters, phone calls and personal visits with Patricia Rorrer, O’Reilly found details that didn’t add up, had never been made public, and that raised serious questions about the case and Patty’s guilt.

Her book, working title “Reasonable Doubt,” details the original story as presented in the press and the story as found in the files and reports.
Through her research, O’Reilly has been instrumental in getting the Philadelphia Innocence Project to take a closer look at the evidence and has gained the support and cooperation of Appeals Attorney Craig Neely.

For the past year, NBC has been using O’Reilly and her research as a primary resource for a project they are proposing to do on the murder.
She has signed a contract with NYC Literary Agent Mike Hoogland of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management to represent the book, and HarperCollins, one of the largest book publishers in the world, is interested in acquiring publishing rights.

Because this case is still in appeal status, many of the discrepancies O’Reilly has found can’t be listed, but more things are happening every day.

A hearing is scheduled for April 5, asking to give Attorney Neely access to evidence that was referred to but not provided to the jury during the trial.

Because this case is still in appeal status, the many discrepancies O’Reilly found are not yet public. A hearing is taking place April 5, in an effort to give Neely access to evidence that was referred to but never provided to the jury during the trial. The request is supported by new witnesses in the case, indications of possible tampering with evidence, and an FBI report stating that hair analysis before the year 2000 was inaccurate much of the time. Rorrer’s case went to trial in 1998.

Only time will tell what happens next but whichever way it goes, O’Reilly’s meticulous research will play a role.

30 Comments on "Local author finds possible new evidence in 20 year old murder case"

  1. Just saw murder in the Lehigh valley lived 2 blocks from there. All I can say is WOW

  2. One witness said he saw two people arguing about a baby not being his. Why wasn’t the baby’s DNA tested to see if the child of the deceased was or was not her husbands? Did anyone research to see if she had fallen in love with someone else? I pray this beautiful mother aND baby felt no pain.

  3. laurie remache | March 6, 2017 at 9:57 am | Reply

    I watched the Keith Morrison mini series about this case. I have doubts as well. How did she drive 500 miles and back? Did the police check Rorrer’s car and check the mileage? If she took public transportation, no one saw her? I just find it IMPOSSIBLE to believe she traveled all that distance and it was not proven.

  4. Carol Quinlan | March 6, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Reply

    Watched this program in ID last night and just sick at how law enforcement, mainly the DA’s office, bungled evidence and sought only for conviction. Now, I read the FBI admits errors in hair testing over decades for hundreds of cases. A horror story.

  5. Roger Leegard | March 6, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Reply

    Tammy Mal. Did they test the DNA of the baby to see if the father Andy Katrinak was actually the father? If he wasn’t the father it would collaborate that Andy and Joann might have had a heated argument prior to her death (as the older man had suggested). Food for thought.

  6. When will the book be published?

  7. Did anyone compare DNA of baby to the husband? If baby isn’t his then the old guy who says he saw them arguing may just have been correct.

  8. In the rorrers case why did they not dna the baby to make sure it belong to the husband of the deceased woman. Could have been a motive for murder.

  9. Hi, probably silly and too basic…
    Was the phone line that Michael used to make the original call to the police the same line that was cut? Supposedly he did not see the cut line for several hours after identifying that his wife and son were missing. He did reconnect the line, but several hours later or certainly after the police left the home the first time, as I understand it. I think it’s highly probable that a Police Officer would notice a cut phone line if it was in the area he checked.
    Is it possible that JoAnn was having an affair or had a stalker?
    Was Michael friends with anyone on the investigating police force or employees there?
    I find it appalling and scary that the police labeled a potential witness as “crazy” and disregarded his statement-even finding humor (on television) in denying this man an opportunity to discuss what he witnessed. Discarding any notes from his statement and not following up on anything he told them. Police brutality seemed to be a problem as well. Why did the officer get so mad that he pushed the gentleman, injuring him? Perhaps the witness sparked a nerve? Who do you think IA would support and believe in those days- their brothers in blue or the “crazy” man? No surprise IA found nothing in their investigation! No one was going to contradict the “straight shooting honest cop”-whether the event/bullying/intimidation was witnessed or not.
    Way too many holes in this investigation. The police were probably under a great deal of pressure to solve this case, so it seems as though they tried to fit a square peg into a round hole, disregarding ethics and possibly even the law.
    I have no idea whether Patricia Rorrer is innocent or guilty, but there are enough discrepancies for me to strongly question whether she received a fair trial and just treatment from the agencies investigating her.
    I’m sure you’ve heard all this before, and I apologize for waisting your time. Just in case… I wanted to give you my thoughts. Very frightening that this could be anyone in Patricia’s situation, regardless of innocence or guilt.

  10. Lying cops and stupid prosecutors. I think they framed her straight up. That prosecutor with the greasy yellow teeth made me sick. All of his cackling made my skin crawl.

  11. Sheryl Williams | March 31, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Reply

    Has anyone considered looking for photos of Patricia immediately prior to the murders? If she was already a brunette how could she have left dirty blonde hairs? Something so simple as hair color could have solved this case from the start. They focused on an old photo from a time when she had that generic hair color? Prove them wrong!

  12. Mary Marchand | March 31, 2017 at 10:48 pm | Reply

    Patricia Rorrer has manipulated every reporter and amateur detective iinterested in this case to postulate why & how she is innocent! The problem is, she is the only person with any feasible motive to do this – Can you even imagine a mother & child in your neighborhood being executed by anyone other than someone with deep emotional & vindictive motives? Let the judicial system do their job – enough of this second guessing ! It is not fair & an lnjustice to those individuals who have legitimately been convicted falsely & deserve further legal assistance (and publicity) !

  13. Please find out if the DNA of the baby was tested!!
    Something is not right in this case!! The ex-boyfriend, Andy Katrinak, could have had access to an old hairbrush or piece of clothing with the hair of Patricia Rorrer on it and framed her for a crime he committed! I’de like to know WHEN Patricia actually dyed her hair dark?? Was it before or after the murder?? I also find it strange Andy didn’t want to move the car when the police told him he could do so! Seriously, he really knew she NEVER pulled straight into a parking place??? Don’t think he would think that way that early in her dissappearance. Also, I don’t believe a guilty woman would have gone over and over every piece of this case trying to find ANYTHING to clear her name. She would let it go-thinking that justice was served and she would now have to do her time for committing the crime!

  14. Please find out if the DNA of the baby was tested!!
    Something is not right in this case!! The ex-boyfriend, Andy Katrinak, could have had access to an old hairbrush or piece of clothing with the hair of Patricia Rorrer on it and framed her for a crime he committed! I’de like to know WHEN Patricia actually dyed her hair dark?? Was it before or after the murder?? I also find it strange Andy didn’t want to move the car when the police told him he could do so! Seriously, he really knew she NEVER backed into a parking place??? Don’t think he would think that way that early in her dissappearance. Also, I don’t believe a guilty woman would have gone over and over every piece of this case trying to find ANYTHING to clear her name. She would let it go-thinking that justice was served and she would now have to do her time for committing the crime!

  15. Jennifer Chavez | April 1, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    Just saw this and i am horrified at how this case was handled. How she was found guilty on complete circumstantial evidence is beyond me. So many great points already made here by people on the outside looking at the presented evidence and questions that need to be answered.

    Was the babys DNA tested to follow up on the witnesses account of a couple fihting?

    You mean to tell me that she broke into that basement and from the look of those pictures it seems like that would have made a lot of noise to wake anybody up. was able to get a mother and baby out of the house get fully clothed and Andy her loving husband not hear anything?

    Did Patty walk to the house make all this noise get them in the car, since it was Joannes car found, and Andy never heard the car turn on and leave the house? Drive all that way out where they found the car, and did Patty walk back to NC? What did she drive back home in? How could she have gone and leave both scenes?

    Why was the police scene cleared at 11pm that door and phone lines would have jumped out at anyone!! Sounds like the police and investigators were for sure trying to close a case anyway they could, from changing the police report, possibly the hairs, dismissing the hair in her hand, and dismissing a witness!! Because the police have NEVER done that before. Remember the how the case back in he 80s when those 4 black boys were wrongfully accused and police mishandled THAT CASE!!

    Patty was clearly home when Andy called her mother, why not check the moms phone records to her daughter at 3am. Minutes would have shown up on that phone record to prove Patty answered mom spoke to her about why Andy was calling, and showing mom calling Andy back!

    Do we have a record of account of a phone repair company going out to his residence to fix this CUT LINE before he made these phone calls to Pattys mom? How did he make these calls?

    These are basic questions the jury should have been asking themselves. They had no murder weapon and no witnesses to tie Patty and Joann together yet there is a witness to tie Andy and Joanne together, probably the last person to her alive.

    How the court system cant see all this and give her another day in court with new evidence is unjustly. With all the social media today showing the wrongdoings of police officers and to not cast doubt on this investigation and how it was handled is upsetting.

    My condolences to Joannes family though, because justice has not been served to them and another persons family has lost someone too. Horrible situation.

  16. Right away it smelled funny. He comes home and finds them gone and goes right to the basement. Then won’t move the car from car parking lot. Then finds the phone disconnected. It’s like he’s trying too hard to keep suspicion off him.

  17. Beverly Shores | May 30, 2017 at 4:15 am | Reply

    Was the husband really checked out? I think he had some pull in law enforcement just my take on it.

  18. I would never want to see an innocent person in Prison for a crime they did not commit. I was surprised that I did not hear about the gun in the program last night. The one that was allegedly purchased at a yard sale and would usually stick after the first shot. I Definitely heard about it on other crime shows.

  19. I watched the 2 part show right now. The retired DA is an arrogant asshole. I agree, why wasn’t the baby DNA tested? They can still do that. Switching of hairs, OMG they manufactured evidence. Remind me to never go to that PA.

  20. I watched the 2 part show right now. The retired DA is an arrogant asshole. I agree, why wasn’t the baby DNA tested? They can still do that. Switching of hairs, OMG they manufactured evidence. Remind me to never go to that part of PA.

  21. You all need to look at all the evidence they have on Rorrer n this damn case..where the bodies were found..hmm just so happens to b Rorrers past horse stomping grounds..the phone calls she made to Joann up until she disappeared n then the calls stopped..Andy n Joann were happy n that was his damn baby..it was all over pure jealousy think about it Rorrer shot her in the face..Joann was a beautiful girl and she’s not and Joann had Andy and she didn’t and Joann had Andy’s baby and Rorrer had a baby boy that died around the same age as Alex..Rorrer was ate up with jealousy if she couldn’t have Andy then neither was Joann so bottom line Rorrer guilty 100% and she is where she needs to be the only thing messed up in this damn case is that she did not get the death penalty!!

  22. It is true that the bodies were found near rorrers old barn, but it also needs to be noted that she and Andy were together when she worked at this barn; therefore, Andy too would know where her barn was and if he wanted to frame her he would need do it in a place that would implicate rorrer. I had horses and I know horse women. They always bring their boyfriends out to the barn at least once. He knew where it was. He knew the location would cast blame on rorrer who he very quickly named as a suspect in this case. Also there was a second hair found at the scene that did not match rorrer. Why did he not stay in the state to make sure this killer was brought to justice.

  23. I believe someone would not go to such lengths to prove evidence. The prosecutor laughed and humiliated her in the interview. I believe innocence.

  24. Does anyone know what city Mrs.Rorrer.. live in in N.C.

  25. Denise O'Toole | October 31, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Reply

    Patricia is totally not guilty of this horrible crime she was framed I pray she will be out of jail someday. I think the husband kill them both he had no tears in his eyes at any time. shame on him.

  26. All This is bull the writer is just looking for notoriety and that criminal is were she belongs…She did it, she killed the mother and child and now after years in jail she found a writer that is hungry for fame… I also read a lot of true case stories mainly Ann Rule and many others..I do not know this so call writer and i do not want to. Therefore if her intention is to sell with me she lost. Period!

  27. Patricia is a psycopath and for some reason is able to con many reporters, etc. Hopefully she leaves prison in a pine box. Awful and cold blooded what she did.

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