Victim’s sister shocked, relieved following arrest of homicide suspect 40 years later

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DENVER — A lot has happened in Janet Pruszynski’s life over the past 40 years.

Seasons have changed. People have come and gone. Children and grandchildren have grown up.

However, one thing has never changed: Janet has never totally stopped grieving after losing her sister Helene so many years ago.

Helene Prusynski was brutally stabbed and killed in a field in what is now Highlands Ranch in January 1980.

“I think we’ve just lived with it. We all went on because I had a 1 1/2-year-old old son at the time. I think because of him, it gave us a reason to move forward. Even though we moved forward and made the best of it, we all had this emptiness and hole in our hearts all these 40 years,” Janet said.

That hole will never be filled. However, after four decades of silence, Janet is finally getting some answers about who killed her younger sister.

Authorities have arrested James Curtis Clanton, a truck driver now living in Florida, for Helene’s death. Investigators swiped the suspect’s DNA from a beer mug and uploaded it to a genealogy website to identify him.

“I was shocked. I was happy, angry, sad, relieved — a whole gamut of emotions,” Janet said.

Johnson says she has never given up hope her little sister’s killer would be found using DNA.

“Every time I’d hear something like that on the news, I’d go, ‘Well, Helene’s case is going to be solved this way,'” Janet said.

However, with closure comes renewed anger. Janet says she wants nothing to do with the man accused of taking her sister’s life.

“No words. Nope. No,” she said.

Instead, Janet is focused on her sister, a woman who left quite an impact on this world during her 21 years of life.

“Everyone who ever came into contact with her, she left her mark because she as such a good person. She would have been quite the Cracker Jack if she would have been able to live her life out,” Janet said.

Janet was nine years older than her sister Helene. She currently lives in Connecticut. Helene’s brother and parents have since passed away not knowing who killed their daughter and sister.