Cold case: Investigators haven’t forgotten 94-year-old beaten to death on Christmas Eve 16 years ago

HARMONY TOWNSHIP — “The Devil did it.”

Chilling words from a 94-year-old woman beaten in her own home on Christmas Eve.

She passed away in the hospital that day.

Today, 16 years later, no one has ever been charged with the crime.

Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle with the Investigators, both current and retired, who have never forgotten this case.

“The ambulance crew was putting Annie Rocknick in the ambulance and knowing her personally, I walked up to her and said Annie, Annie, you know what happened to you, what happened?” said Retired Harmony Twp. Police Chief Jack Lively.

Lively told Earle that he won’t ever forget his last conversation with Rocknick.

“She says ‘who are you?’  And I said ‘Jack Lively.’ She says Jackie the devil. The devil did this,” said Lively.

“She kept saying ‘the Devil did this to me.’ I said ‘Ms. Rocknick, did you recognize him?’ She said no,” said Retired Harmony Twp. Officer Bob Santo who was the first officer on the scene.

Both Santo and Lively lived just around the corner from Rocknick and both knew her.

“She lived by herself but her brother-in-law would check on her all the time,” said Santo.

“She was just a nice old lady,” said Lively.

Channel 11 spoke with Lively back in 2005 shortly after the murder.

“We established there was a break in, a forced entry from the front door,” Lively told Channel 11 in 2005.

“She told the paramedics that he kept saying ‘where’s your money?  Where’s your money? I need your money,’ and she kept telling him I don’t have any money,’” Lively told us recently.

After securing the crime scene and turning it over to forensics teams, Chief Lively went to the hospital to check on Rocknick.

“We walked in, and the doctor took us aside and said she didn’t make it. I said ‘what the hell are you talking about, she didn’t make it?’ I was talking in the ambulance. you know. He said she didn’t make it,” said Lively.

Rocknick had been asleep when someone wearing a dark hoodie forced their way through a locked door.

Police said the attacker, they suspect to be  a drug addict, went from room to room rifling through drawers apparently searching for cash.

“There were drawers open, but nothing was taken out of those drawers. You could see where clothes were put aside,” said Lively.

Beaten with an unknown object, possibly a claw hammer, and bloodied, Rocknick somehow managed to call 911.

Dispatcher: You’re bleeding?

Rocknick: I’m bleeding, somebody just come in the house, and they clobbered me.  They split my head and I’m just all bloody. My bed...

Dispatcher: Hold on sir (unintelligible).

Rocknick: my sleep, they were beating me up.

Investigators chased down numerous leads, but nothing panned out, until they got a mysterious phone call more than three years after the crime.

“We got a phone call from a relative identifying this person. He said he did it, and it’s the first time that guy’s name came up in three and half years. His name was never mentioned during the entire investigation. His name came up and pieces just started falling into place,” said Lively.

But there were never enough pieces to file any criminal charges.

“There’s been multiple suspects, but it becomes that sole person that probably needs to come forward that has heard something or seen something,” said Beaver County Detective Patrick Young, who says the tremendous amount of evidence collected at Rocknick’s home that day may eventually hold the key with the evolution of DNA and fingerprint technology.

“And that’s one thing that doesn’t change. So you know relationships change, people die, but the forensics remains the same,” said Young.

“Who goes out and beats to death a 94-year-old woman, an animal,” said Lively, who at least once a year pulls out the case file to remind him that there’s still unfinished business.

“Every year bring it out. I got all the newspaper clippings, everything, the killer’s still out there,” Lively said.

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