Trudy Ochankowski Murder: Where Is Gerald Brian Tuttle Now?

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The generally peaceful town of East Hampton in New York was left petrified when 60-year-old Gertrude Ochankowski was found dead in a stream in 1998. While the case managed to baffle authorities for years, an arrest was made more than a decade after the incident. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Homicide Hunter: American Detective: The Creek’ chronicles the gruesome murder and follows the ensuing investigation that brought the perpetrator to justice.

How Did Trudy Ochankowski Die?

Gertrude “Trudy” Ochankowski was a kindhearted 60-year-old who lived in East Hampton, Connecticut, and earned a living as a home health aide. People who knew her described her as a caring and generous individual who loved helping others in her community and always welcomed everyone with a smile. Even though she was 60, Gertrude was known for her cheerful and amicable nature, which helped her make new acquaintances without much trouble. Besides, she was pretty close to her family, especially her two daughters, and is terribly missed to this day.

Gertrude’s loved ones weren’t able to reach her on January 10, 1998, and they informed the police about the incident. On the same day, law enforcement officials found the 60-year-old’s car parked outside a nearby laundromat while her pet dog was still inside. Realizing that it was uncharacteristic of Gertrude to leave her dog like that, her family officially reported her missing on January 11, 1998, and hoped for her safe return. Authorities immediately took matters into their hands and formed search parties, hoping to comb through the nearby areas for Gertrude Ochankowski.

The authorities also canvassed the area around her house in the search for witnesses and interviewed several of Gertrude’s acquaintances, but to no avail. No one knew where the 60-year-old was or why anyone would want to harm her. As the minutes passed, Gertrude’s family began suspecting foul play, and their fears were confirmed when the 60-year-old’s body was recovered from a local stream just hours after being reported missing. Incidentally, the victim was restrained with tape, and an autopsy determined that she was strangled to death.

Who Killed Trudy Ochankowski?

Unfortunately, the initial investigation into Gertrude’s murder was pretty challenging as the police did not have any lead or suspects to work with. While a thorough search of the crime scene did not reveal any clues, there were also no witnesses who could help direct the investigation in the correct direction. On top of that, most of Gertrude’s acquaintances talked about her friendly nature and insisted that she did not have any enemies who would target her this way.

Since Gertrude’s car was found abandoned below a laundromat, the police looked into the residents of that building and realized that a man named Gerald Brian Tuttle lived right above the business. From the very beginning, they suspected Gerald of being involved in the murder, but when questioned, he insisted on his innocence and claimed he had no idea about Gertrude’s death. Hence, with no evidence to tie him to the crime, the police were initially forced to let Gerald go.

However, since Gertrude’s boyfriend mentioned that an unknown male was spying on her shortly before the murder, the police kept a close watch on Gerald, hoping for a lucky breakthrough. Unfortunately, with no progress, the case soon went cold, and detectives were only able to get a proper breakthrough once they employed advanced forensic technology to do a sweep of Gertrude’s car. The forensic search revealed the presence of a foreign male DNA sample, and authorities decided to bring Gerald in for a second round of questioning.

Naturally, Gerald still stuck to his claim of innocence, although the police managed to gather the cigarette butts he had smoked while in the interrogation room. Using these butts, they matched his DNA to the one in Gertrude’s car, eventually linking him to the homicide. Hence in 2013, more than a decade after the murder, Gerald Brian Tuttle was arrested for his involvement in Gertrude Ochankowski’s murder.

Gerald Brian Tuttle is Presumingly Behind Bars Today

When arrested, Gerald realized that the police had ample evidence against him. Hence, he agreed to plead guilty under the Alford doctrine, which would allow him to maintain his claim of innocence while accepting that the state had enough evidence to convict him. Eventually, in 2016, Gerald pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter and second-degree kidnapping.

Gerald was sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison, suspended after 30 years served, along with five years of probation. Unfortunately, recent prison records do not reveal Gerald’s current whereabouts, although considering his sentence, we can safely assume that he is still behind bars in a New York prison.

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