Mystery of North County woman’s fatal late-night walk still haunts family members 35 years later

This was no ordinary stabbing. Mary Macinski was stabbed 57 times.
This was no ordinary stabbing. Mary Macinski was stabbed 57 times.
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 4:25 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The phone call came in the middle of the night. The phone call nobody wants to get.

“We got woke up from a call from my mother,” Ann Grue remembered. “Around 1:30 I think. She said ‘we’re out in your area. We need to come by and tell you something.’”

Shocked and scared, Ann pressed for information but her mom didn’t want to talk on the phone. Ann and her husband Mike got out of bed, turned on the lights, put on some coffee, and waited for the inevitable. Her mind raced. There was mom and dad, and sisters, Emily, Regina and Mary. Ann knew Emily was safely home in bed, six months pregnant. Within minutes, there was a quiet knock on the door, and Ann opened it slowly.

“As soon as we saw it was mom and dad and our sister Regina, we knew something had happened to Mary,” Ann said.

Mike will never forget the visit in the middle of the night.

“It was just a kick to the gut. Kick to the gut. Just left you breathless. Stunned,” Mike said. “Just absolutely stunned.”

Mary’s parents then made their way to Emily’s house, where the heartbreaking scene replayed itself. Like Ann before her, sister Emily sat and waited for the news, and quickly put two and two together.

“When it was mother and dad and Regina, we suspected that it was Mary,” Emily said.

Emily’s husband Vince watched the scene play out. He too will never forget.

“When this whole thing went down it really rocked my world something fierce,” Vince said.

Mary Macinski was an UMSL grad who lived at home with her parents. She was a talented photographer and seamstress and standing nearly six feet tall, was a member of the St. Louis Tall Club. And she was never afraid of a little adventure, no matter how crazy it was.

“I flew airplanes,” Vince remembered. “I asked her one time ‘you want to go flying?’ She was all in on it. I got her up in the plane, I explained to her how things work, and I let her fly the plane! And she had herself a royal blast with it.”

One thing Mary loved was her walks, and she went for one every day. But on Sunday, August 30, 1987, the day slipped away, and night fell. But Mary was determined, and at 9 p.m. she told her parents she was going out for her walk in her Vinita Park neighborhood. Her father Fred tried talking her out of going out so late, but Mary was determined to take her walk. She left the family home in the 8000 block of Washington.

“It was a part of her routine to walk every day, but not late at night like that,” Ann said.

When she didn’t return by 10 p.m., her father, worried, grabbed his flashlight and went looking for her. He did not have to go far. He found Mary’s body crumpled in a driveway, in the 8100 block of Monroe, just four blocks from her home. She had been stabbed numerous times. Fred Macinski ran to the front door of the house, pounded on the door, and asked the homeowner to call 911. But it was too late. Mary was dead.

Police arrived on the scene to find few clues.

“She walked the same route every night,” said St. Louis County cold case investigator Joe Burgoon. “She didn’t have a purse with her. Someone just attacked her. She was struck on the head, and then stabbed.”

But this was no ordinary stabbing. Mary Macinski was stabbed 57 times.

Mary Macinski (bottom left) with her sisters and parents.
Mary Macinski (bottom left) with her sisters and parents.(KMOV)

The scene was striking: a young woman, brutally attacked in the quiet of the evening, in a residential block with lights on throughout the neighborhood. And yet nobody saw or heard anything. There were no witnesses. There were no sounds. Nobody heard a thing from a woman who was being repeatedly stabbed to death, leaving police frustrated.

“She was in between two cars, laying on her back,” Burgoon said. “There were a couple of fingerprints on the car. We never identified them. Somebody went over a fence. There was some blood on some shingles there. They had canine out there that picked up a track, but it went all over the place, and then it was gone.”

The family was stunned. Was Mary just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or did the crime scene point to something even more onerous?

“At first we suspected that it was somebody who knew her,” said her sister Emily. “As time went on, we felt it was the wrong place, wrong time. She was just walking in the dark and someone took advantage. We hoped it might be solved. We were worried that someone else might be hurt.”

Emily’s husband Vince felt the same way.

“I didn’t think it was so much an unknown person. My personal thought at that time and I’m not entirely convinced I feel any different. I thought she knew him,” Vince said.

And Ann’s husband Mike agreed.

“My gut feeling was it was somebody who knew her routine. I think it was possibly somebody from the area who knew that,” Mike said. “I thought it could be solvable. The longer it went, the less likely it was.”

Burgoon said detectives tried everything at the time.

“They had an FBI profiler, who said the guy may have had mental issues or had similar crimes. They checked all the apartment buildings in the area. They didn’t come up with anything,” Burgoon said.

For a family that has endured pain for 35 years, what remains is peace.

“People cry out for justice when what they really want is vengeance,” Ann said. “Now I have happy memories of her. I think about her once in a while, some of the fun stuff we did, some of the funny stuff she said.”

And with peace and faith, comes forgiveness.

“We have come to peace with it,” Emily said. “We still would like the person to be caught. But we are at peace. We have forgiven the person.”

If you know anything about Mary's murder, call the St. Louis County Police Department at...
If you know anything about Mary's murder, call the St. Louis County Police Department at 314-615-5400(KMOV)