NEW YORK - It's been nearly 26 years since a vicious crime rocked the small village of Elmsford, a community in Westchester County, north of New York City. It's the type of place where you can't just forget something like this.
"For years and decades to come," said Nick Brandi. He is the executive editor of Westchester Magazine but two decades ago he was working at a diner across the street from what was the old Saw Mill River Motel.
On the afternoon of Sept. 5, 1995, Brandi received a call from the fiancé of his good friend Jon Weaver. She was worried because Jon hadn't come home. Brandi said he hadn't heard from Weaver all day.
Weaver had gone back to his job at the motel, where he was the midnight clerk, to cash a check.
"And that was hours ago. And that was extremely unlike Jon, who is very reliable. So she was a little bit concerned, you know, maybe a fender bender or traffic accident or something like that," Brandi said. "She wanted to know if I could, maybe on my next break, walk across the street."
She hoped Jon would be at the motel speaking with his colleague Kay, one of the other clerks at the motel. She hoped they'd still be able to meet up for their dinner date, but when Nick started to cross the street, it was clear something terrible had happened.
The crime has remained unsolved for more than 25 years: the killing of Jon Weaver and his colleague Kay Praponpoj inside the motel.
"I can't bring Jon and Kay back," Brandi said. "But what I can do is tell interested people how special and amazing they are, and how loved they both still are."
It happened at about 4 p.m. on that September afternoon when police received the call.
"And when they arrived, they found two people shot," current Elmsford Mayor Robert Williams said. "One was a hotel clerk that was working, when they realized the second one who was shot was [the] midnight clerk."
The two motel clerks were shot in the head. Praponpoj, 50, would linger in a coma for five years before dying from her injuries. And Weaver, 32, the midnight clerk who randomly stopped into the office to cash a check, died that day. About $400 was missing from the register.
There were no witnesses, no fingerprints, no modern-day surveillance cameras or cell phone records. A check of the guest logs didn't provide any answers.
The motel is located along the Saw Mill Parkway. The location would offer an easy escape.
"Right off the parkway at 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon," Brandi said. "Not yet rush hour so with a straight shot to New York or Manhattan, where you could lose yourself."
Investigators have theorized it was a botched robbery. At the same time, with such a violent and targeted result nothing was ruled out. Still, with few leads the case went cold until six months later there was a development that was completely unexpected. The shocking murder of famed Second Avenue Deli owner Abe Lebewohl who was shot and killed on his way to make a bank deposit. It turns out, the same .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun was used in the motel murders.
"We had renewed hope that what happened with Abe would get us somewhere with the perpetrator," Brandi said.
The gun was found partially disassembled in Central Park three days after Lebewohl's murder.
It was a promising clue but though ballistics linked the two killings, it never led to any suspects. To this day, both cases remain unsolved.
"Imagine you having a loved one that got killed in a horrible crime like this, and you never know what happened. And you never got the bad guy," Williams said. "We're just all hoping that it does come to closure and families get to rest better."
Rewards are still being offered in both the motel murders and the shooting death of Abe Lebewohl. If you have any information, please call the New York State Crime Stoppers hotline at 866-313-8477.