LONG ISLAND (PIX11) — A Long Island family is turning up the heat on a cold case that left a hero cop murdered 33 years ago.
Undercover detective Dennis Wustenhoff , 41, was killed when a bomb blew up his car in front of his home in Patchogue on Feb.15, 1990. His killer has never been caught.
Rewards as high as $65,000 for information leading to the the arrest of the person responsible have gone unclaimed. Determined to find justice, Wustenhoff’s widow raised an additional $35,000 to up the ante to $100,000 with the hope that money talks.
At a news conference with Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison, the officer’s daughter, Jennifer Wustenhoff Lees, expressed the hope “that this higher amount will not only draw attention to the fact that our family will never give up the search for justice for Dennis Wustenhoff, but will also get someone to come forward with information to find his killer.”
The officer’s three children, ages 10 to 14, were in school and escaped the bombing that killed their father and tore through their home, but the events of that day continue to haunt them more than three decades later.
“It’s something you can’t get rid of, you think about it every day,” Melissa Wustenhoff Scelsi said. “Thirty three years passed and your small children become adults and have children of their own, but its just always looming over you.”
Even though the FBI has stepped in to review the case and evidence, Wusenhoff’s killer has never been caught. His family is hopeful that upping the reward from $65,000 to $100,000 will help entice someone to come forward.
At first it was thought the undercover officer’s assassination was job-related, but a person of interest surfaced, another cop who had a beef with Wustenhoff.
“My dad had an affair with this man’s wife,” Wustenhoff Lees explained and noted, “This is not a secret, it’s confirmed. We understand it and we accept it, even our own mother understands, but it doesn’t make murder okay.”
She said the man “lawyered up,” and was questioned by detectives, but was never arrested or charged with planting the car bomb.
“At the end of the day, we need somebody’s help to come forward. You’ll be compensated, but we need a way to rejuvenate this investigation and find the individual who committed this homicide,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said.
Wustenhoff’s family has vowed that regardless of the passage of time they will never give up the fight to find the person who murdered him.
“The walls are closing in. It’s only a matter of time,” Wustenhoff-Scelsi previously said.
All calls to the police hotline are anonymous. The Suffolk County Crime Stopper hotline number is 1-800-220-TIPS.