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Eleven-Year-Old Murder Case Ends With Guilty Plea Bargain

November 27, 1990

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ A former school administrator has confessed that he killed his ex- girlfriend, ending an 11-year-old murder mystery.

Francis Malinosky, 45, appeared in Chittenden Superior Court Monday and told a judge what police and the victim’s family had long suspected: He killed schoolteacher Judith Leo-Coneys in November 1979.

″I am ashamed of myself right down to the very center of my being,″ Malinosky said, admitting his crime to District Judge Frank Mahady.

As part of a plea bargain, Malinosky last week led police to Leo-Coneys’ body, which had never been found. The corpse, covered in plastic, was located in a 2-foot-deep grave off a logging road in Cabot.

An autopsy showed Leo-Coneys had been shot.

In return for Malinosky’s cooperation, the state reduced its charge against him from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. The plea agreement called for a 10- to 15-year prison sentence, with all but five of those years suspended. He could be released from prison as early as late 1993.

Mahady weighed whether to accept or reject the plea agreement for more than an hour.

″The penalty contemplated in the agreement simply doesn’t fit the offense,″ the judge said on returning to the bench.

But he said he accepted it because ″it accomplished important goals that could not have been accomplished in any other way. It resolved what happened 11 years ago.″

″We settled for half a loaf but half a loaf is much much better than none,″ said Chittenden County State’s Attorney William Sorrell. ″There was enough uncertainty about what might happen at the hands of a court or the hands of a jury that it made sense on both sides to try to reach an agreement.″

Malinosky was arrested in April in a Los Angeles-area motel, where he had been staying under an alias. He claimed then that he was the victim of a ″small-town witch hunt.″

Malinosky was an assistant director of special education for the Burlington schools and Leo-Coneys was a Milton special education teacher when their two- year relationship ended in the summer of 1979. The breakup reportedly left Malinosky distraught, his attorney said.

Leo-Coneys, 32, disappeared Nov. 5, 1979, after going to Malinosky’s home to pick up her personal belongings.

Malinosky had been a suspect from the beginning, but police were never able to connect him with Leo-Coneys’ disappearance, police said. Several diggings around his house failed to uncover any evidence.

As the investigation accelerated, Malinosky disappeared in December, and wandered the country using a host of aliases, police said.

In 1989, Sorrell took over as state’s attorney and, after reading the case file for three days, reopened the case.

″I was convinced when I looked at the file that he had murdered her,″ Sorrell said. ″It bothered me that this guy was getting away with murder.″