LEHMAN TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A Luzerne County mother says her family finally has closure and peace now that the man who brutally murdered her 20-year-old daughter nearly 16 years ago has died.
42-year-old Joseph Gacha was convicted in the 2004 stabbing death of 20-year-old Carrie Martin of Larksville. Gacha found dead Monday inside his prison cell in Fayette County in Western Pennsylvania.
Carrie Martin’s family says they have been living a nightmare for nearly 16 years, but now they say they feel that a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders and they say, not only do they have peace, but they believe so does their daughter.
“I felt relieved. I think it’s a type of closure. No more appeals, no more court stuff. She can rest in peace,” Wendy Cadwalader, Carrie’s mother, said.
Wendy Cadwalader has made this walk a countless number of times into the Idletown Cemetery to visit her daughter’s grave. But now, these visits are very different, now that 42-year-old Joseph Gacha is dead.
Gacha was found dead inside his cell at the state prison in Lafayette County on Monday. He was convicted of the 2004 murder of Carrie Martin at her Larksville apartment. He stabbed her dozens of times during a robbery.
“Now I can concentrate on just keeping her memory, the happy things not all the bad things that happened to her with what he did to her about how she died and how many times he stabbed her. I’m not reliving that anymore,” Cadwalader said.
Her daughter was the Luzerne County Fair Queen and loved horses. Her grandparents showed us a portrait of her painted in her honor and on their Christmas tree, an ornament with her photo on it.
“Well, it’s closure to us. At least to me. It’s been a tough 15 years especially for Wendy,” Butch Grey, Martin’s grandfather, said.
“At least for us to know he won’t be brought up in the prison system again. We now know where he is,” said Donna Grey, Martin’s grandmother.
And this mother had a message to other parents.
“Make sure you love your kids and make sure no matter what you say when they walk out the door you tell them you love them, give them a hug. You don’t know what’s going to happen one minute to the next. She left my home and the next morning she was gone,” Cadwalader said.
Another suspect in her murder, Daniel Kukucka committed suicide in prison shortly after his arrest in 2004. According to published reports Friday night, the lead investigator believes drugs smuggled into the prison may have contributed to Gacha’s death.
The Fayette County Coroner is awaiting autopsy toxicology results which could take up to three months.