******* another interesting post I found on this subject ********
You said you have done some research on the so-called "Pennsylvania Strangler", so you may be interested in exploring a little more.
I have been looking into the unsolved homicide of my step-father's daughter in New Castle, PA which occurred in 1975. One of the prime suspects in the murder is currently serving life in prison at SCI Greene for the 1978 double homicide of a young mother and her four year old daughter. My step father's daughter was four years old and was murdered along with her babysitter. The two murders occurred just a few miles from each other (yeah, I know, I asked the State Police why, back in 1980 when they arrested Atkinson, they didn't explore the possibility that the crazy satan worshippers might have something to do with the OTHER senseless murder of a four year old and a grown woman in a very small town, but they just kind of blew me off).
The 1978 murder victims were Kathy & Dawn Kadunce. The case was tried as a satanic ritual homicide and one of the perpetrators considered himself a high priest of satan (Frank Costal). Lots of press coverage, so if you ever look at newspapers from the past you should have no trouble reading up on it. I belong to newspapers archives.com and have gotten lots of info, but the New Castle News is only on-line up to 1977 so the coverage I have found is not as detailed as I would like.
Both homicides were done in a "group" and there seems to be some confusion among police as to who exactly was present. Michael Atkinson testified in the Kadunce trial (January 1981) and he changed his story numerous times. One of the men Atkinson claims was present at the Kadunce homicide allegedly committed suicide 3 months prior to Atkinson's arrest, leaving a type-written note before putting a bullet in his head. It is interesting to note that the victims of all the "satanic" homicides got a bullet in the head. Atkinson also claimed the husband, Larry Kadunce, was at the homicdes. Kadunce was arrested after Atkinson went to prison and was acquitted of the murders one year later. Kadunce still lives in the area.
Considering that Roberta Elam was a nun and Susan Rush was devoutly religious, I have been doing research to the best of my ability (I am out of state) trying to find any possible connection with Atkinson and his group of friends. I figured perhaps the psycho satan worshippers might get off on killing a nun. There is no evidence at all that there is any connection. However, Atkinson is a convicted rapist and a multiple murderer. He was also convicted of the murder of his landlady Rose Puz in January 1980.
Most likely, it is just a coincidence that a homicidal psychopath (that is how Atkinson is repeatedly described to me by police, lawyers, and anyone who knew him) lived in Ellwood City during the time that all these women were killed. It may also be a coincidence that this psychopath hung out with a group of guys who considered themselves satan worshippers and who committed horrible crimes, including but not limited to, violent rape and murder. It has been noted that the DNA from victim to victim excludes only one man committing all these crimes. Now police have proven that Elam and Rush were committed by the same guy.
Michael Atkinson was and is a dangerous, troubled, violent man. He also was convicted of many crimes but was ALWAYS WITH OTHER GUYS who helped him commit them. Consider this about Atkinson:
- He was convicted of various arson charges in 1972 (I can find no details, just the docket entry of the courts)
- He is strongly believed to have committed the violent double homicide of a four year old girl and her babysitter in November 1975
- He was convicted of a rape he committed with another man in September 1978
- He was convicted of the July 1978 double homicide of Kathy Kadunce and her four year old daughter Dawn
- He was convicted of the murder of 83 year old Rose Puz, his landlady, in January 1980. I believe she was strangled, but I am not 100% certain. She was also set on fire.