Julie Knyszek was chosen out of 3,500 student employees as the 2010 Student Employee of the Year this month for her work as a Cold Case Homicide Unit Analyst in the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) as a representative of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.
A senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, besides telling her fellow employees and friends there will be free cake at the award presentation Knyszek has also found the best thing about her award so far has been making her unit proud.
“The best part has been seeing how proud it makes all the investigators and detectives I work with that I was chosen, that someone from their unit was chosen to be the Student Employee of the Year,” said Knyszek. “It’s not only an honor to me but they also take it as an honor and it’s been really nice to share that with them.”
Knyszek originally started her work in September 2007, and was handpicked in May 2009 to be apart of the newly formed MPD Homicide Task Force-Cold Case Unit with special intensive investigation into recent serial killings in Milwaukee.
Intitially a student investigator assistant, she was promoted in May 2008 as one of three program analysts for the pilot program establishing a Witness Protection Unit in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office.
“Her work as a program analyst was so impressive that she was handpicked to serve as one of our two representatives on the unit,” said David Budde, chief investigator for the Milwaukee District Attorney’s office.
Created to work on the case of multiple unsolved female homicides in the Milwaukee area since 1986, Knyszek helped with a variety of work while in the unit. She helped sift through over 700 names in nine homicide files, researched over 15,000 sexual assault investigations from the last 23 years, reviewed nearly 6000 prostitution-related investigations and arrests, looked over 2000 arrests over a 15-year period in the geographic areas where the bodies were discovered, questioned over 1000 names through the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and searched the state DNA databank of 125,000 people and the national DNA databank of 6,000,000 people.
With her help the serial killings were eventually linked to a suspect, Walter Ellis, who was arrested in September, 2009, and charged with seven counts of homicide.
Asked to stay on the unit, she worked on at least four additional cold case homicides in which leads were eventually developed and criminal charges were issued.
From search warrants to autopsys, watching interrogations to touring the crime lab, and working on high profile cases, and getting subpoenas to testify in court, Knyszek has found her work to be quite exciting.
“I think the most exciting part overall is just knowing that each day I go into work what I do truly matters and has an effect on some part of a criminal investigation or could even affect some other person’s life,” said Knyszek.
As a whole Knyszek’s work has been praised by the Attorney General of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County Executive and the District Attorney. With this achievement she becomes the first student from the District Attorney’s office to ever win Student Employee of the Year.
“She is the finest work-study student to have worked for the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office in the past decade – out of a pool of well over 125 students,” said Budde. “This is an unprecedented assignment for a work-study student – never in the history of our office’s association with Marquette University has something like this been done.”
Still ecstatic about her award, Knyszek remembers the day she found out like it was yesterday.
“Everywhere I went everyone was congratulating me and telling me how happy they were for me,” said Knyszek.
“It served to further confirm the feeling of community I have within both the District Attorney’s office and MPD, particularly with everyone being truly happy for my accomplishment and thanking me for the work I have done for them.” Knyszek will stay with the unit until she graduates in May 2010.
Popularity: 4% [?]