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Unsolved: Family still searching for answers in beating death of elderly man

Now 22 years after an 83-year-old man was found dead in his backyard, his family continues to fight for justice.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — In 1997, 83-year-old Anthony Firta was living on Pershing ave in the City of Buffalo. 

On the evening of June 4, his neighbor noticed something suspicious about his house and called police.

"The front door was open. My grandfather never, ever had that front door open," said Firta's granddaughter Jeanne Rosten.

Rosten says when police arrived they searched the front of the house but did not go down an alley to check the backyard.

The next morning, his neighbor noticed the door was still open and went to check out the house himself.

"He went up the alleyway and saw my dad laying on the ground in the backyard," said Firta's son, Howard Winkler.

"I happened to hear on the news, elderly man, white man, found in backyard deceased. And I went, what? That's where grandpa lives," Rosten said.

Rosten says she used to speak with her grandfather on the phone every night. 

"I didn't hear from him that night," she said, "so the next morning, when I saw that, it was a shock to my system." 

"They said that he was probably beaten by a two-by-four that they had found with blood on it," Winkler said.

Winkler says his family was in shock. Anthony Firta was a veteran and business owner in Buffalo.

"He was a businessman who ran several businesses. He used to own Right Stop Candy, and he was probably one of the first ones to make ribbon candy in this area after the war," he said.

However, puzzle pieces began to come together when his family discovered a six-page letter in his home. Firta wrote about a man that worked for him that he had threatening encounters with.

"In the letter he would describe him as becoming more and more aggressive," Winkler said.

The family took the information to police.

"The person who they suspected was interviewed and had a lie detector (test) they said three times, and each time he failed, but it wasn't enough in their minds to actually do something about it," Winkler said.

No one was ever charged with Firta's murder. 

Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo says this case, like all cold cases remains active.

Firta's family says they will never give up. 

"I want to know who killed my grandfather. They beat this 83-year-old man who weighed 128 pounds to death,"  Rosten said.

If you have any information about this cold case, you are asked to contact the Buffalo Police Confidential Tipline at (716) 847-2255.


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