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Back Mountain murder to be featured on TV


February 20. 2013 1:47AM
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WILKES-BARRE – A 10-year-old Luzerne County murder case will launch the sixth season of Wicked Attraction, a show on the Investigation Discovery Channel.


Danica Neddenien, associate producer for m2 Pictures in Hampton, Va., said the show will detail the events surrounding the Nov. 8, 2002, murder of 16-year-old Casey Zalenski of Franklin Township.


Zalenski was killed in his home during a break-in by Larry Tooley and his girlfriend, Tina Young. Young was a former babysitter for the Zalenski family and had targeted the home, hoping to steal money for drugs.


Neddenien said the show is constantly looking for potential cases to profile and came across this incident during routine research. It was simply a heart-wrenching story that we felt deserved to be told, she said.


We profile homicide cases committed by two or more individuals, seeking to understand the psychology that drives the crime, Neddenien said.


We tell our story through interviews with the victims' friends and family, law enforcement, prosecutors, local journalists and forensic psychologists. They take us through the case, step by step, explaining through their firsthand accounts how the perpetrators are brought to justice.


According to The Times Leader's archives, Young, then 34, took Tooley, then 46, to the Zalenski's Franklin Township home to steal money the teenager was saving to buy a car. The two wanted the money to buy heroin.


Tommey Zalenski, the victim's younger brother who was 14 at the time, testified he was watching television when he saw Young's car pull into the driveway at about 10:30 a.m. He and Casey heard Young enter the unlocked house and ask if anyone was home. The boys didn't respond and ran into the attic.


Tommey Zalenski said he heard his house getting torn apart. After a few moments, Casey went downstairs to see what was happening. That's when Tommey Zalenski heard the man threaten to kill his brother.


He then heard shots fired.


Casey Zalenski was shot by a .38-caliber gun three times. Tommey Zalenski died in 2008.


On Friday, their father, William Zalenski, talked about the upcoming show and the family's participation.


We feel it's important to get the message out there on how families are affected by drugs and violence, he said. We hope it will help for people to hear our story and to hear Casey's story. He was an innocent victim whose life was taken.


Tooley and Young fled the state and were caught in New Jersey. Neddenien said she is working with Zalenski's parents on the program, as well as state police and the prosecutor.


Tooley was sentenced to life in prison followed by 24 to 49 years in prison.


Young accepted responsibility for her role in the shooting death and was sentenced to 19 to 40 years in prison.


The documentary will debut in May, though a specific date has not yet been determined.




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