New York Violinist Found Slain in Summer Home

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Updated: Aug. 22 at 5:45 pm

Two men were charged on Friday with murder in the death of Mary Whitaker, a violinist who performed with the Westchester Philharmonic and other New York ensembles. Authorities allege that the two men, Jonathan Conklin, 43, and Charles Sanford, 30, were attempting to burglarize Whitaker's summer home in rural Westfield, NY, when she entered and was shot twice.

The 61-year-old violinist was found dead at 4:20 pm Wednesday after police had responded to a call from concerned friends who could not reach her. Her car was later found in Erie, PA, tracked down after her credit card had been traced to the area. The suspects, who are believed to be homeless men in the Erie area, are facing federal and state charges.

Whitaker, who also lived in Manhattan, had long spent her summers in western New York, where she performed with the Chautauqua Symphony. She completed her 36th season with the orchestra on Tuesday.

An Indiana native, Whitaker moved to New York City after graduating from Indiana University with a performance degree in violin. She worked in the New York area for the past 30 years, 25 of them as a member of the Westchester Philharmonic, according to the orchestra's website. She also played in Broadway shows, the New York City Opera Touring Company and chamber ensembles, including the Sirus Quartet.

The conductor Marin Alsop was a friend of Whitaker's and posted several messages on Twitter remembering the violinist:

"We are all shocked and grief-stricken," said Joshua Worby, the executive and artistic director of the Westchester Philharmonic, in an e-mail to WQXR. Friends and colleagues left messages of remembrance on Whitaker's Facebook page and on Twitter.

Via Slipped Disc