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Memorial dedicated at Wellesley Island murder site

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FINEVIEW — On the 44th anniversary of a woman’s murder on Wellesley Island — a crime that has never been solved — a memorial was unveiled and dedicated Sunday afternoon at the site.

Irene J. Izak, 25, a French teacher from Scranton, Pa., was found bludgeoned to death the morning of June 10, 1968, in a ditch off what was then an extension of Interstate 81. The road is now County Route 191, just outside DeWolf Point State Park.

Approximately 17 people attended the dedication of a permanent memorial to Miss Izak, arranged by Karen Davis, Goose Bay, who said she was 14 when the murder occurred.

Mrs. Davis, who placed a temporary memorial in the form of a cross last year at the site, said she was inspired by recent publicity in the case.

“I did this so people will remember what happened here,” she said. “People of the north country have not forgotten.”

Two of Miss Izak’s nieces, sisters Maria Black and Daria McDonnell, accompanied by their husbands, came from Scranton to participate in the brief ceremony.

Mrs. Black, who was 12 at the time, said it was an honor “to be here to see my Aunt Irene, who was such a loving part of our lives, remembered by so many people here in such a caring way.”

“I think Aunt Irene would have been very surprised as well as pleased at how fondly she has been remembered here today,” Mrs. McDonnell said.

Also attending was a retired schoolteacher who was a colleague of Miss Izak for two years in a Binghamton school. Diane Hahn and her husband, John, drove from Albany.

“I finally got to see the place where she was murdered,” Mrs. Hahn said. “I can’t believe how much of a lonely, dark this place must have been that night. The memorial is beautiful. It is so meaningful. And I just had to have my picture taken with Irene one last time.”

The Rev. Arthur J. LaBaff, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Clayton, presided at the dedication, representing Ogdensburg Bishop Terry R. LaValley, who sent his regrets at not being able to attend.

The sign, which bears a photograph of Miss Izak, was made by William Gill of Signtech, Plessis. The Jefferson County Highway Department helped position the memorial after the town of Orleans Planning Board approved the project.

Gray’s Flower Shop, Watertown, donated a floral spray, and State Park Police Maj. Rudy Schneider headed a safety detail for the event.

A book about the case, “The North Country Murder of Irene Izak: Stained by Her Blood,” was published in 2010 by the History Press, Charleston, S.C., and went to a third printing last year.

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