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Tampa dentist Rudy Persaud a suspect in the 12-year-old cold case of Kristine Kupka

3:21 AM, Mar 6, 2010   |    comments
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NEW YORK (CBS) - Twelve years after she vanished, the search for a Baruch College student may finally be over. Police have been digging up the basement of a store in Queens for three days now with hopes they will find Kristine Kupka's remains.

Kupka's family has been holding tight, praying this cold case may finally be cracked.

"It's been so many years and I've been waiting for so long, and I really think that this is it," Katherina Kupka, Kristine's sister, told CBS 2.

Investigators have been digging at the industrial location in Jamaica where the NYPD cold case squad was hoping they will bring Katherine and her family some answers.

Kristine Kupka disappeared on Oct. 24, 1998. A 28-year-old student at Baruch at the time, her family and police believe she was murdered.

Investigators' suspicions in 1998 and now have always centered around Kupka's chemistry instructor at Baruch, Rudy Persaud, who's about a year older than her. Katherine told CBS 2 that Persaud was married at the time, and that he had "many" affairs.

Kristine, the family said, became pregnant by Persaud. They say he wanted her to get an abortion, and when she refused, they said she disappeared. The Kupka family has gone so far as to say others in Persaud's family were involved.

"He saw Kristine and the baby as a problem for him. His wife saw it as a problem for her, and they decided to get rid of the problem," said Katherine.

Nearly 12 years ago, police wanted to search the same property in Jamaica from a tip that maybe Kristine had been buried there. The owner of the business was said to be a cousin of the person who was under suspicion, and police could not get a warrant on the basis of a tip. That is, until this week, almost 12 years later, after learning there was new owner.

The cold case squad moved in.

"They just rolled up and said they wanted to search, so I said, 'Do your thing,'" said Bryan Nachoo, the new owner's son.

Detectives have taken out dumpster-sized evidence being processed at labs. Forensic archeologists and anthropologists have been brought in.

Meanwhile, Persaud and his cousin have moved to Tampa. Persaud is now a dentist, and apparently, word that the case has been reopened has generated an added bonus:

"There have been a couple of phone calls, and I think there are enough of people that know that are smart enough to not want to go to jail themselves," said Katherine.

Detectives say they will keep digging for at least two more days.
 
For more information on the Kristine Kupka case, the Kupka family has a Web site about the case. Click here to visit the Kristine Kupka Web site.

WCBS-TV

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