James J. Koedatich


James J. Koedatich

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Robbery
Number of victims: 3 +
Date of murders: 1971 / 1982-1983
Date of arrest: May 12, 1983
Date of birth: 1948
Victims profile: Robert Anderson, 40 (his roommate) / Amy Hoffman, 18 (a high school cheerleader) / Deirdre O'Brian, 29
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Florida/New Jersey, USA
Status: Sentenced to death in New Jersey on October 29, 1984. Commuted to life

Born in 1948, Koedatich committed his first known murder in Dade County, Florida, on June 13, 1971.

The victim was his roommate, 40-year-old Robert Anderson, and Koedatich served eleven years on conviction of murder and robbery, winning parole from Raiford prison in August 1982.

He moved north with the state's permission, settling in Morristown, New Jersey, and he lasted all of two months before his bloodlust surfaced again.

On November 23, 1982, Amy Hoffman, a high school cheerleader, was kidnapped from a Morristown shopping mall, fatally stabbed in the chest and back with a long-bladed knife, her body recovered from a rural water tank on Thanksgiving Day.

Witnesses described her abductor, but police had no suspects in sight twelve days later, when 29-year-old Deirdre O'Brian was snatched from her car on a dark country road, raped and stabbed, then left for dead near Allamuchy, 20 miles from Morristown. She lived long enough to describe her attacker as "resembling a truck driver."

On the night of January 16, James Koedatich phoned police in Morristown, complaining that he had been stopped by an unknown assailant and stabbed in the back while driving through Morris Township, a quarter-mile from the scene of Deirdre O'Brian's murder.

Authorities routinely checked his car as part of their investigation, noting that his tires matched tracks discovered at the latest murder site. A further search turned up sufficient evidence to warrant his arrest, and Koedatich was held in lieu of $250,000 bail, formally charged with Deirdre O'Brian's murder on May 12.

Seven months later, on December 15, he was also indicted for murdering Amy Hoffman. Tried on the latter charge first, in October 1984, Koedatich was convicted of murder, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, and unlawful possession of a weapon with intent to kill.

On October 29, he became the first man sentenced to die under New Jersey's revised capital punishment statute. (Serial slayer Richard Biegenwald was the second, in 1985.)

Convicted of Deirdre O'Brian's murder in May 1985, Koedatich received a sentence of life imprisonment when three jurors balked at voting the death penalty.


MO: Killed male roommate (1971) and at least two females

DISPOSITION: Condemned on one count, 1984 (commuted to life on appeal); life term on second count, 1985.

James J. Koedatich