In-Depth: What happened to Judith Geurin?

May 19, 2018 03:37 PM

COHOES - It all began in a four-bedroom colonial style home in Cohoes, where Amy Kusaywa lived a happy, simple life with her four brothers and loving mother and father.

Until the summer of 1988 when the sudden death of her father would set off a chain of events that still haunts Kusaywa more than two decades later.

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“She was heartbroken by the loss of my father and I don't believe that she deserved what happened to her,” said Kusaywa.

But, she doesn't know exactly what happened to her mother, Judith Geurin. She has devoted her life to finding answers.

It's also the mission of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, though they have just one box of notes and no concrete evidence to go on.

“Nothing you can really put your finger on. She just disappears,” said Chief Deputy Bob Hetzke.

After the death of her husband, Geurin's life began to spiral downward. She began drinking for the first time.

Haunted by the ghosts of happier times, she sold the family home in Cohoes and bought a duplex in Troy.

“They put our stuff on one truck and her stuff on another truck and we were like what's going on?” said Kusaywa.

Kusaywa tells us, with $250,000 from her husband’s life insurance, Geurin left her kids behind for a life 200 miles away in a small town near Lake Ontario with a man named Curtis Pucci.

“It was a source of pain for us to watch her go down this road, but we also knew and thought it would be temporary,” said Kusaywa.

But, according to both her daughter and the sheriff's office, it wasn't.

When Geurin moved to a trailer in Sodus Point, her life began to unravel. She burned through her husband’s life insurance money, got in trouble for drinking and driving and started writing bad checks.

In January 1991, Geurin called Kusaywa and said she was sorry for her mistakes and wanted to come home.

“Unfortunately that was the last time I ever spoke with my mother,” said Kusaywa.

In the months that followed that phone call, Geurin missed court appearances.

Chief Deputy Bob Hetzke says Pucci told investigators she moved to Florida to evade charges for writing bad checks.

“Investigators kind of stopped looking for her?” I asked.

“Right. We had no reason to believe back then that what he was telling us wasn't true. She was not in Wayne County anymore,” said Hetzke.

For 15 years, no one looked for Geurin except for Kusaywa, who had a hunch something terrible had happened.

“I always had a feeling that she just didn’t disappear,” she said.

Kusaywa began her own investigation. Desperately trying to pull pieces together.

One day she located an ex-girlfriend of Curtis Pucci, who according to Kusaywa had given her one of Geurin’s most prized possessions.

“I never knew her to take it off let alone leave it somewhere,” said Kusaywa.

Kusaywa then called the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and a missing person’s case was launched in 2006. But, the sheriff’s office had an enemy working against them- lost time.

They tell us they tried to jog the memories of people who knew Guerin in Sodus Point. They tracked her social security and her tax records.

“Going to the extent that we went to try to locate Judith as a willing missing person and not being able to find her in any way shape or form really the next conclusions you could come to is something bad happened to Judith,” said Hetzke.

In 2006, they also started looking for Curtis Pucci. They found him behind bars in state prison serving a 12-year sentence for assaulting his roommate with a hammer.

He refused to answer any of their questions, so Kusaywa tried to crack his silence with a letter.

He replied once with a cryptic message, “Go pick up your feathers and we both may forgive you but not until…”

“Obviously he was trying to say something, but I don't really know what,” said Kusaywa.

Now almost the same age as her mother when her world exploded, Kusaywa feels a deep sense of empathy.

And an even deeper desire to find answers.

“I just feel like it's my personal mission to bring her home and lay her to rest with my father. I really feel like that,” said Kusaywa.

It's not clear, at this point, if this is a case of someone who simply does not want to be found or something more sinister.

If you have any information that might help police, they would like to hear from you.

As for Pucci, he has never been accused of any crime associated with Geurin’s disappearance.


Anna Meiler

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