Man who murdered Schenectady teen, raped women, dies in prison

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A man who murdered a teenager in Washington County and terrorized and raped women in at least four states has died behind bars.

Kenneth Yarter murdered Susan Zanta, 16, in Argyle in July 1974. The Schenectady teen was vacationing in the area at the time.

Yarter admitted to the killing, but claimed police forced his confession. New York’s highest court agreed, and he was set free.

He went on to rape women in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida. It was during a rape investigation in St. Petersburg in the 1990s that Yarter unwittingly told a vacationing police officer that he killed a girl in New York in 1974 and dumped her body in the woods.

Yarter pleaded guilty in 1996 to Susan Zanta’s murder.

NewsChannel 13’s Mark Mulholland was in court that day as the district attorney told the judge that Yarter was a poster boy for the death penalty.

When the Zanta family learned of his death this week in a Florida prison at the age of 72, they said they’re thankful he was brought to justice and they’re happy this chapter is closed.