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Nancy Grace

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Will mystery quilt help solve mom’s 1989 murder?

  • Cathy Zimmer, 38, was found dead in the backseat of her car on March 10, 1989
  • Her strangled body was covered by a handmade quilt
  • Police believe the mystery quilt will lead them to her killer
The body of Cathy Zimmer was discovered on March 10, 1989.

Mystery quilt used to cover the dead body of Cathy Zimmer.

Investigators with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Cold Case Unit are asking for the public’s help to identify a quilt used to cover the strangled body of a California mother who was murdered 25 years ago.

At the time of her death, Cathy Zimmer was a 38-year-old mother of two teenagers. She was taking classes at San Jose State University and working part-time at a real estate office.

On the morning of March 8, 1989, Cathy drove her children to school, had lunch with a friend and attended two college classes, according to police. When she missed two appointments later that afternoon and failed to return home that evening, her family called police and reported her missing. 

Two days later, her body was discovered in the backseat of her Chrysler New Yorker at the San Jose airport. Police say her body was covered by the handmade patchwork quilt; however, no one close to Cathy knew where it came from.

In 2011, District Attorney Jeff Rosen restored the department’s cold case unit. While reviewing cold case files, investigators came across Zimmer’s case, and they began focusing on the quilt found with her body.

The mystery quilt is made up of flowery fabric squares surrounded by a yellow border, and investigators believe it could lead them to Cathy’s killer.

“Cathy Zimmer was slain two and a half decades ago, but her family has never forgotten her,” Deputy District Attorney Ted Kajani said in a news release. “We, too, have never forgotten her. We, too, have never given up on her case. We are asking the public to take a look at this quilt and call us if you know anything about it. We are hoping that it will lead us to Cathy’s killer.”

Who made the quilt? Who owned it? Who killed Cathy Zimmer? If you have any information about the quilt or Cathy’s murder, please contact the Santa Clara County District’s Attorney’s Office at 408-808-3760.

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