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Police seek clues into 19-year-old murder of woman at dry cleaning shop


St. Paul police are seeking the public's help in cracking the 19-year-old homicide case of Rita Tolchinskaya, who was killed in an apparent robbery at her brother's dry cleaning business.

The Pioneer Press, noting that the woman was killed on May 4, 1996, reports homicide investigators hope someone with "a tidbit of information" will come forward to help solve the cold case, or that people who were afraid or reluctant to come forward at the time of the incident are now ready to talk to them.

Little is known about Tolchinskaya's death, KSTP adds. Police have said she was killed with a sharp instrument, and the weapon was never recovered. Checks were also stolen from the store – then called East Side Cleaners & Laundry – and police asked the public at the time to be alert for them, but the checks and a missing bank bag were never located.

Police are not releasing more information because of the open investigation.

At the time of her death, 45-year-old Tolchinskaya, a recent immigrant from Kiev, Ukraine, was a part-time employee at the shop. She had been taking classes to improve her English and was studying accounting at St. Paul College, City Pages reported.

“Time is a healer. Right? That's what we say... not in this situation,” her brother, Vladimir Storchak, who owns the store, now known as Storchak Cleaners, told KSTP. "It's a violent death, it's not natural. It stays with you through the rest of your life. You try to shake it, it's impossible. You cannot do it. You die with this."

The Pioneer Press added Storchak keeps his sister's jacket hanging in the back of the business.

"That's my sister and at least it's a memory of her," he said.

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