MOUNT PLEASANT — A 33-year-old woman has been accused of stealing a van, and was reportedly caught in part because of DNA found on a straw.
Ashley C. Crayton, from Anoka, Minnesota, was charged with a felony count of driving or operating a vehicle without owner’s consent.
According to a criminal complaint:
On Sept. 21, an officer was sent to a residence on Daisy Lane for the theft of a 2009 Chrysler Town & Country. The owner said the van was in the driveway and the key was inside the center console.
On Oct. 2, a sergeant was contacted by the Kenosha Police Department because the stolen van was located. It was parked in the 6600 block of 18th Avenue.
A search of the car was done and a health card belonging to Crayton was found. There was also a Big Buddy cup from a gas station and several Walgreens gift cards. Surveillance video from a Walgreens on 52nd Street showed a woman attempt to use the card but it was declined. She then got into the stolen vehicle.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has identified human remains that were found nearly 50 years ago with the help of genealogy testing.
During a news conference Thursday, Detective Bill Springer announced that the remains found in June of 1974 belong to 15-year-old Susan Gale Poole who went missing in Broward County just before Christmas in 1972.
Poole’s remains were identified following genealogy testing by Othram Labs, a private forensic laboratory that utilizes genome sequencing to build DNA profiles, according to Springer.
Late last year, Othram Labs contacted the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office about performing genealogy testing on cold cases.
“It was decided by the sheriff’s office and my supervisors that we would send up the unknown remains of the girl from 1974,” Springer said. “Thanks to Othram, they were able to identify her and build a profile.”
Scientists used that DNA profile to identify Poole’s mother and siblings. Poole’s mother is still alive and in her 90s.
Why your DNA may be solving cold cases
Poole was born on February 12, 1957. At the time of her disappearance, Poole lived with her family at a Fort Lauderdale trailer park, according to the PBSO. Poole was also staying at a friend’s apartment in Wilton Manors at the time.
Springer says Poole’s skeletal remains were found tied up in the mangroves of an area formerly known as “Burnt Bridges” along A1A in Palm Beach County.
WOLF CREEK TOWNSHIP – The case of a Chicago man whose body was found 42 years ago in Wolf Creek Township has been solved.
State police say they have closed the case after identifying the victim as Edwin Rodriguez of Chicago, according to a news release issued May 25 by the PSP Troop D Criminal Investigation Assessment Unit.
“The family was grateful that we were able to inform them what happened to their loved one and we were able to return his remains to Chicago for a proper service,” Trooper Joshua Black said, following up on the news release.
Using DNA testing and genealogy tools, they were able to confirm Rodriguez was the victim and identified Nestor Quintanal as the suspect in his death.
Quintanal died in Florida in 2002 at the age of 71. Homicide charges would have been filed otherwise, Mercer County District Attorney Peter Acker said.
The suspect would have been extradited to Mercer County and tried, hopefully ending with him being convicted and sentenced to state prison for life, Acker said.
Police began their investigation on Nov. 6, 1980, when someone found a burning body near Interstate 80 in Wolf Creek Township.
Autopsy results revealed that the deceased was a white male between the ages of 16 and 19 who weighed about 115 pounds and was 5 feet 8 inches tall.
Rodriguez had third-degree burns on 70 percent of his body and could not be identified at the time, police said.
Since then, advancements have been made in DNA technology, allowing law enforcement to submit evidence taken from the crime scene, Acker said.
His office paid for state police to have an advanced DNA analysis performed, eventually leading to the…
SPOKANE, Wash. – After 10 years, the manner of death for a woman found dismembered and dumped in a sleeping bag has been amended from ‘undetermined’ to ‘homicide.’ The request for Spokane’s new medical examiner to the review the original autopsy report and findings conducted by those who held the title before her, came from the Spokane Police Department.
Dr. Veena D. Singh wrote in an addendum, mailed to the family of Kala Williams, in part stating, ‘Scene investigation, findings, autopsy findings, and toxicology results warrant changed in original certification to the following:
Cause of Death: Homicide by unspecified means
Manner of Death: Homicide’
“[The new medical examiner] has poured grace over our family,” Kala’s mother Martine Maggio told KHQ. “We were beyond floored someone still cares about Kala.”
Martine says even days later, she’s still in shock.
“Obviously this was a murder, obviously,” she said. “It’s been 10 years. We want [justice.]”
She says the wait to get it nearly cost her life. She says the month of May is filled with horrific memories that caused her to go into a deep depression.
“I wouldn’t be eating,” she said. “There’s a gnawing edge in your stomach that never goes away.”
Kala’s body was found on Mother’s Day in 2012. She had been reported missing by her brother several weeks prior.
Martine, and Kala’s cousin Julie Beauchaine, both recall fearing the worst, when no one could track Kala down. The women remember hearing reports that a body had been found off of Highway 195 and suspected instantly that it was Kala.
“I didn’t want to hear the words… I knew, I already…
July 7, 1994, rural Montrose County. Aug. 9, 1993, Lakewood, Washington.
The dates and states are far removed, but they have proven inextricably linked: the first is the day hikers found a woman’s skull on Windy Point. The second is when a 45-year-old woman was last reported alive to Washington authorities. It is now known the dates involve the same person, a woman known here for almost three decades as Windy Point Jane Doe, but who now has her true identity back.
Her name was Susan Hoppes.
Cause of death: Undetermined.
Manner of death: Undetermined, but circumstances point to homicide.
Forensic genetic genealogy, which did not exist in 1994, finally linked Montrose County’s unidentified body with a petite, dark-haired Washington State woman, who reportedly left her home in the middle of one August night.
“This is a classic piece of police work,” said Montrose County Coroner Dr. Thomas Canfield, who formally confirmed the identity Wednesday, May 11, almost 28 years after Hoppes’ remains were found. “You just keep digging and digging and digging.”
After many years of work by many hands, Montrose County Sheriff’s Office investigators got their match through a DNA sample the Colorado Bureau of Investigation prepared for a commercial DNA database, where samples from Hoppes’ brother and sister had also been uploaded.
Although the process is far from simple and does not necessarily produce instant results, the match for Hoppes was made less than two years after Sheriff Gene Lillard green-lighted sending the remains for familial DNA testing.
Hoppes’ identification was confirmed April 19 and Canfield then notified her surviving…
It’s a three-decade-old, high-profile murder case that has received national attention.
The person in the below composite sketch is the man investigators believe is the I-70 Serial Killer.
The sketches below are age-enhanced. These show what the killer could look like now.
According to police, six store clerks along Interstate 70 were killed in a murder spree over 29 days. Two in Indiana, two in Kansas and two in Illinois.
Detectives said the scenario for all six murders was basically the same. The killer walked in, shot the clerk in the back of the head and then left all in broad daylight, all with the same gun.
Terre Haute Police Detective Sergeant Troy Davis has been working on this case for more than ten years. The three-state killing spree claimed six lives – one in Terre Haute.
“I certainly wouldn’t call it a cold case now,” Davis said. “Even after 30 years, you might think people would get over it, but they don’t, they don’t get over it.”
Michael “Mick” McCown – Terre Haute’s victim
On April 27, 1992, the I-70 killer claimed the life of 40-year-old Michael “Mick” McCown. He was working as a store clerk at his family’s ceramics store.
This was on south 3rd Street in Terre Haute.
According to police, McCown was the I-70 Killer’s only male victim.
Davis stays connected with McCown’s family.
“When I see them (McCown’s family), especially when they get emotional…they still get emotional after 30 years, and that’s something that affects you,” Davis said.
Heating back up
Terre Haute Police Detective Brad Rumsey says he believes his department has an edge in solving this case.
“There’s no reason not to be focused on him, but you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. There’s always the possibility that this sketch could be off,” Rumsey said. “Maybe it’s one of those deals where someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You have to count on other things, not just the picture.”
The other things include the fact that the killer used a unique gun to shoot his victims. Ballistics link the deaths.
All of the agencies involved in this investigation have sent items away for DNA testing. Investigators hope DNA matches up and there’s a connection.
Davis says he’s witnessed firsthand this cold case warming back up in the last two years. Heat brought on by all the law enforcement agencies investigating the case.
Davis says, yes, they have a facial composite of the suspect, and ballistics link the deaths, but they need more. That’s where advancements in technology come in.
All agencies working on this mystery have evidence that’s been sent away for DNA testing. The results from the testing could lead to the killer’s identity.
Davis says the hard part is waiting – but he believes Terre Haute could solve the case.
All of the agencies involved in this investigation have sent items away for DNA testing. Investigators hope DNA matches up and there’s a connection.
Rumsey says the THPD has never given up. He says the families deserve closure.
“When you let a case go cold because of the evidence…or lack thereof…you get antsy. You want to move forward,” Rumsey said. “For me, it just means we are still behind the eight-ball. We need to get there.”
He told us tips from the public continue to move this case forward. An information portal was created for all of the agencies involved.
Davis told News 10 that around eight to ten tips are received each week.
You can share information by calling 1-800-800-3510 or by clicking here.
RICHMOND (CBS SF) — Using the latest advances in DNA technology, police cold case investigators announced Thursday they have identified Jerry Lee Henderson as the suspect responsible for the 1999 murder of Meekiah Wadley inside a Richmond home.
While Henderson died 11 days after the murder of a suspected overdose, Richmond police hoped the revelation would provide some measure of closure for her relatives.
READ MORE: UC Berkeley Police Search for Individual After ‘Credible Campus-Wide Threat’
“Over the course of more than 20 years, law enforcement working this case never gave up,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta at a press conference. “It is my sincere hope that this resolution brings the family of Meekiah Wadley a measure of peace. Nothing can ever bring back a loved one, but we’re committed to doing all we can to help bring the truth to light in the fight for justice.”
Acting Richmond Police Chief Louie Tirona added: “It is my hope that this news brings needed closure to all those who knew and loved Meekiah Wadley.”
At first, law enforcement at the news conference refused to identify the murderer, saying they didn’t want to give him any notoriety. But Wadley’s family – also present at the news conference – insisted that they name him, and Tirona did eventually identify Henderson by name.
The Wadley family said he was a friend of a friend of Meekiah’s, who went into her home when she was out for the night, and when she came home he raped and suffocated her.
The case dates back to January 1999. Richmond police responded to a call to a residence in the 1300 block of Carlson Blvd. after a nearby neighbor reported hearing screaming coming from the residence.
When the neighbor went to the residence and knocked on the front door, police were told, the screaming continued for approximately 30 seconds. The neighbor retreated to his apartment and called 911.
Arriving officers found the front door locked but the back door was unlocked and ajar. Once inside the home, officers found Wadley on the floor of her bedroom. Her hands were bound together with shoelaces, she had been killed by asphyxia due to smothering.
A buck knife was located under her body.
READ MORE: Drought Emergency: Contra Costa Water District Calls For 15% Conservation, Mulls Surcharge
The initial investigation focused on a man she spent the prior evening with. Other than the initial person she was seen with the prior evening, there were no investigative leads. That person was ultimately ruled out as a suspect.
A variety of DNA testing was conducted in the years following the slaying.
In 2002, a mixed DNA profile was developed from swabs collected from Wadley’s hands and a bloodstain at the crime scene. This DNA profile was submitted to the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to search the offender database. There were no matches.
In 2020, additional DNA testing was requested, focusing on previously untested fingernail clippings and ligatures. A male DNA profile from Wadley’s fingernail clippings was developed.
In October 2020, the DNA profile created by the Contra Costa County crime lab was submitted to the DOJ’s DNA Data Bank Program to conduct a familial search of the state DNA index system.
In April 2021, California Department of Justice and Bureau of Forensic Services and Bureau of Investigation agents presented the results of the requested familial search. The DOJ’s investigation revealed a person who was a potential first-degree relative of the male suspect. But the relative was ruled out as a suspect.
Since Henderson also died in January 1999, the DNA search became even more complicated.
With the assistance of the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, detectives were able to track down an immediate relative in September 2021. A buccal swab was obtained from the person and submitted to the crime lab.
MORE NEWS: 2 Found Shot Dead In Apparent Murder-Suicide in San Francisco Oceanview District
On September 17, 2021, Richmond police received notification that the buccal swab from the relative confirmed Henderson’s DNA matched the fingernail clippings from Wadley and investigators concluded Henderson was the person responsible for the murder.
Raymond Rowe, the once-popular entertainer known as DJ Freez, has lost his bid to have DNA testing done on items used to murder teacher Christy Mirack 29 years ago — items, he maintained, that would show he wasn’t responsible.
Lancaster County Judge Dennis Reinaker denied Rowe’s challenge to his conviction in a 16-page ruling Thursday, finding Rowe’s claim that someone else killed her after they had consensual sex unbelievable.
“Unfortunately for (Rowe,) he may try to change his version of events, but he cannot change the record. Unlike the petitioner, the record does not lie,” Reinaker wrote in the opinion and order.
Rowe, 53, pleaded guilty Jan. 8, 2019, to raping and murdering Mirack in her East Lampeter Township townhome on Dec. 21, 1992. in exchange for prosecution to drop the death penalty.
Rowe’s attorney did not have an immediate comment because he had not reviewed Reinaker’s opinion and order. Messages at phone numbers believed to be Mirack’s brother weren’t immediately returned.
Rowe testified at a hearing last August that he was forced to take the plea by his attorneys and because he was facing the possibility of the death penalty.
In Rowe’s telling, he and Mirack had a secret relationship. They had consensual sex and she was alive when he left the townhome, meaning someone else killed her, according to his testimony.
Reinaker rejected that.
“This court is unable to fathom that someone else entered the home between the hours of 7 a.m. and between the timeframe of 7:10 a.m.-7:20 a.m, found the victim without her clothes on, covered in semen, and murdered her without leaving any additional DNA on her body,” Reinaker wrote.
Mirack’s roommate left for work at 7 a.m. the day of the murder, and neighbors reported hearing a scream coming from the apartment shortly afterward.
The principal at the school where Mirack taught worried when she failed to arrive at school. He drove to her townhome and found her body about 9:20 a.m.
Rowe wanted Reinaker to order that DNA testing be done on Mirack’s sweater, which was used to strangle her, and on a wooden cutting board used to beat her.
But Reinaker wrote Rowe “failed to provide any evidentiary basis that would lead the court to believe an alternative suspect’s DNA would be found” on the items.
“Given the circumstances of the case and the questionable version of events provided by the petitioner, DNA testing would not establish his actual innocence, even if his DNA were absent from the requested item,” Reinaker wrote.
Rowe’s defense attorney made a strategic decision not to have the items tested years ago, reasoning that she would not want to test something that could provide more evidence of guilt.
Rowe was never a suspect in Mirack’s killing until 2018, when genetic genealogy led detectives to him after his half-sister uploaded her DNA to a public genealogy database. The case was among the earliest uses of genetic genealogy, which involves comparing DNA collected at crime to DNA indexed by commercial and government testing labs. Partial matches can lead investigators to other relatives and, in some cases, to the actual perpetrators of crimes.
Rowe is serving life in prison without possibility of parole, plus 60 to 120 years for the other crimes.
Success! An email has been sent with a link to confirm list signup.
Error! There was an error processing your request.
GREAT FALLS — DNA evidence preserved on a microscope slide after a 1956 double homicide and the use of forensic genealogy helped a Montana sheriff’s office close the books on the 65-year-old cold case, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office announced.
Investigators concluded Kenneth Gould — who died in Oregon County, Missouri, in 2007 — more than likely killed Patricia Kalitzke, 16, and Duane Bogle, 18, the Great Falls Tribune reports. Both were shot in the head.
Detective Sgt. Jon Kadner, who took over the case in 2012, said Tuesday it was the oldest case he could find nationwide to be solved using forensic genealogy, which searches commercial DNA databases to find familial matches to the DNA of a crime suspect.
On Jan. 3, 1956, three boys hiking along the Sun River near Wadsworth Park northwest of Great Falls found Bogle dead near his car. A day later, a county road worker found Kalitzke’s body north of Great Falls.
Kalitzke was a junior at Great Falls High School, and Bogle was an airman at Malmstrom Air Force Base from Waco, Texas.
People are also reading…
Officers investigated for years, but they were unable to make an arrest.
In 2001, then-Detective Phil Matteson sent the slide of a vaginal swab gathered from Kalitzke’s body to the Montana State Crime Lab for analysis. The lab found a sperm cell that did not belong to Bogle, officers said.
In the following years, law enforcement compared the DNA sample to about 35 other men, including gangster James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger Jr. They were all ruled out as suspects.
When Matteson retired, he said he didn’t believe the case would be solved. “A lot of different people had a turn at this, and we just weren’t able to take it to conclusion,” he said.
In 2018, however, forensic genealogy, which was used to help adoptees find biological family members, was used to identify Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. as the Golden State Killer. The new method has led to the identification of dozens of suspects in cold cases.
In 2019, Cascade County detectives had Bode Technology perform additional DNA testing on the evidence found on Kalitzke’s body. It was uploaded to voluntary genealogical databases, where they discovered a possible family connection — leading investigators to Gould.
Kadner had to reach out to Gould’s children and ask for DNA samples to verify the match.
“I wasn’t sure how they were going to react when I come to them saying, ‘Hey your dad’s a suspect in this case,’ but they were great to work with,” Kadner said.
Gould’s family home at the time of the homicides was a little over a mile from where Kalitzke lived and he was known to ride horses through the area, officials said.
After the murders, Gould sold his property near the town of Tracy. His family lived in Geraldine and Hamilton before moving to Missouri in 1967. They did not return to Montana.
Gould did not have a known criminal history and was not interviewed during the murder investigation. Investigators could not uncover any connection between Gould and the victims.
Officers kept working the case because of the circumstances, Kadner said.
“You had two young, vibrant individuals that were well-liked among their peer group,” he said. “Investigators poured their heart and soul into this case. They leave a little bit of themselves, from what I’ve seen.”
7 unsolved multiple homicides in Montana, and two that were solved through DNA
Nels and Annie Anderson — Billings
On the night of December 7, 1924, one of Billings’ oldest unsolved murders took place. 43-year-old barber Nels Anderson and his wife, 39-year-old Annie, were slain in their barber shop on Minnesota Avenue.
The weapon used, an ax that the Andersons kept at the shop for splitting wood, was found near Mr. Anderson’s body. Evidence indicated that the Andersons were just getting ready to leave for the night when they were surprised by the killer, as both victims had their coats on and there was no sign of a struggle.
Police attempted to gather fingerprints from a washstand used by the killer to rinse his or her hands, and combed over the Andersons’ correspondence to try and find anyone who they might have been in conflict with. The search for suspects extended to nearby towns, but no arrests were made.
Lloyd Duane Bogle and Patti Kalitzke — Great Falls
On Jan. 3, 1956, three young boys walking west of Great Falls, in an area now known as Wadsworth Park, discovered the body of 18-year-old airman Lloyd Duane Bogle lying next to a car. Bogle’s hands were tied behind his back using his own belt, and he’d been shot through the head. The car’s ignition switch was still engaged, and its headlights were still on.
The body of Bogle’s 16-year-old girlfriend, Patti Kalitzke, was found the next day northwest of the city. Like Bogle, Kalitzke was shot through the head. She showed no signs of sexual assault.
Bogle and Kalitzke were last seen alive at a Great Falls drive-in Jan. 2. Investigators didn’t believe that the two were killed during a robbery, as money and a camera were found in Bogle’s car.
More than 60 years later, the case remains unsolved. It has been theorized that Bogle and Kalitzke may have been victims of Edward Wayne Edwards, who was convicted of similar double murders in Ohio and Wisconsin, and was known to have been in Great Falls in 1956. Edwards died in prison in 2011, and is believed to have been responsible for the murder of at least one more couple in Oregon.
Richard and Alice Easton — McGregor Lake
The bodies of Richard Easton and his wife Alice were found on Feb. 19, 1963 at the Paradise Lodge, a resort that the Eastons owned at McGregor Lake west of Kalispell.
The Eastons were bludgeoned to death. Mrs. Easton was found inside the lodge by her daughter, while Richard Easton was found inside a padlocked garage by police who responded to the scene. A pathologist determined that the Eastons were attacked with a straight, narrow instrument approximately two days before their bodies were found.
A cash register stolen from the lodge and Richard Easton’s billfold were found in 1965. A suspect was questioned a few months earlier, but was released.
A woman came forward 38 years after the murder, saying she believed her ex-husband was the murderer. Arlene LaPierre lived with her then-husband Kenneth Lloyd Pendleton in a cabin not far from the lodge.
LaPierre told authorities in 2001 Pendleton returned to their cabin one night covered in blood. Pendleton claimed to have hit a deer and told LaPierre not to ask any questions. He then proceeded to burn his clothes, according to LaPierre.
Pendleton was believed to have robbed as many as 80 banks in eight states, and escaped from three prisons, before he was found beaten and stabbed to death in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in January 2001. Investigators closed the Easton case after Pendleton’s death.
Jim and Lois Arrotta — Great Falls
On the morning of Friday, Sept. 4, 1964, a beer salesman and a produce manager discovered the bodies of James and Lois Arrotta in the East Side Super Save Market in Great Falls, where James Arrotta was manager.
Lois Arrotta’s body was tied to the rear door of the market, bound with clothesline and gagged with cloth. Jim Arrotta was also bound and gagged, and detectives determined that the cloth used was torn from the aprons worn by the store’s employees. Both of the Arrottas had been stabbed with a long knife found at the scene. Broken Pepsi bottles, which police believe were used to hit one or both of the victims, were also found nearby.
Investigators believed the murders to be the result of a burglary and theorized that the Arrottas were abducted from their home while their seven children slept and taken to the store to open the market’s safe. The safe could not be opened by James Arrotta, as it used a time lock that kept it sealed during late hours.
The Arrottas’ car was found near their home, leading investigators to believe that the murderer or murderers drove the car away from the market before abandoning it. It was later determined that Jim Arrotta’s coin collection was stolen from the Arrottas’ home. The empty coin collection books were eventually found near the Black Eagle Dam.
Alan Reavley, who was fired from the market for theft just weeks before the murders, was charged in 2002 with the murders during investigation of thefts from multiple Great Falls organizations. Witnesses testified that Reavley had talked during a religious retreat about killing people when he was younger, and one witness said Reavley claimed to be the one who found the bodies.
No physical evidence was found to link Reavley to the crime scene, and he was found not guilty of the murders in February 2004. Reavley was convicted of stealing money from the Great Falls Food Bank while serving as its executive director and is on parole, according to the Montana Department of Corrections.
Marjorie and Nancy McQuiston — Butte
Five days after 51-year-old Marjorie McQuiston and her 26-year-old daughter Nancy went missing on April 9, 1965, their bodies were found near the top of a hill northwest of Butte, less than a mile from their home at 945 17th St.
The two women were shot and badly beaten, according to contemporary news stories. Nancy McQuiston’s car was found a quarter-mile away from where the bodies were found, in a gully on the edge of Big Butte. The car’s trunk was stained with blood, indicating that the women were killed elsewhere before being taken to the dump site.
Authorities were stuck juggling the murder investigation with the search for 17-year-old JoAnn Kankelborg, who went missing the same day as the McQuistons. Kankelborg’s body was found on April 15, 1965, just one day after the McQuistons were found, under a bridge southeast of Butte. Butte athlete Jerry Van Nuland was quickly charged with Kankelborg’s murder.
Investigators tried in vain to find some connection between Kankelborg’s murder and the double murder of the McQuistons. Van Nuland pleaded guilty to the Kankelborg murder and was sentenced to life in prison, but was never linked to the deaths of the McQuistons.
Bullet holes and blood-stained objects were discovered in the McQuiston residence. The suspected murder weapon, Nancy McQuiston’s own .22-caliber automatic pistol, was found in the home. The case remains unsolved.
George Heinrich and Marlene Mazzola — Billings
George Heinrich, 58, and Marlene Mazzola, 42, were on only their second date when they were murdered in Heinrich’s home northeast of Billings on Sept. 21, 1980.
The couple was found by Heinrich’s adopted daughter the next afternoon. Both had been strangled and beaten and were bound with electrical tape. There was no sign of sexual assault on either victim.
They were last seen by Heinrich’s brother and sister the night of the murders at the Elk’s Club in Billings, which they left around 1:30 a.m. according to witnesses. Mazzola’s 1979 Pontiac LeMans was found abandoned at a Husky service station on Main Street.
Missing from Heinrich’s home off Highway 312 were a valuable diamond ring, a Masonic ring and a clock. Investigators found Heinrich’s keys outside of the door between the garage and house, leading them to believe Mazzola and Heinrich were surprised by the killer or killers within the garage. The door to the master bedroom, where the bodies were found, was damaged.
A red pickup, which was missing its tailgate, was seen driving up the lane toward the house around 2 a.m., according to investigators.
Kenneth and Iva Larue Cheetham — Lake Inez
The Cheethams’ 1969 Ford van was found days later on Aug. 5, 1991, on a logging road near Lake Alva. Their bodies were found five weeks later on Sept. 11, by a man walking his dog off Highway 83 near Lake Inez, just a short distance from where the van was discovered.
The Cheethams both died of gunshot wounds. Iva Cheetham’s purse was dumped outside of the van, but her checks and credit cards were not taken. The couple’s Hitachi video camera was one of the few items taken from the van. The strap from the camera was found along Highway 80 near Geraldine, more than 200 miles away.
Investigators questioned a man who was known to be in the Geraldine area around the time of the murders, but never had any physical evidence to charge him. Shell casings found near the bodies indicated that a 9mm pistol was the murder weapon.
Dorothy Harris, Brenda Patch and Cynthia Paulus — Florence
On Nov. 6, 2001, three women were murdered in the Hair Gallery salon in Florence. The women were found by a customer who was arriving for an appointment.
The throats of Brenda Patch, Cynthia Paulus and salon owner Dorothy Harris had all been slashed. The brazen nature of the murders, in broad daylight during business hours, puzzled investigators, but also provided a lead. Witnesses described a person wearing a fedora or top hat and a long coat walking briskly near the salon and through a nearby neighborhood after the murders.
Brian Weber, who was questioned in the weeks after the murders, allegedly made statements to acquaintances regarding the murders. Attention returned to Weber while he was being held on drug distribution charges.
Weber claimed that investigators suggested he had been sent to the salon by an Idaho drug dealer because of a drug debt owed by a relative of one of the victims.
The case was reopened after the charges against Weber were dismissed.
SOLVED: Clifford and Linda Bernhardt — Billings
Clifford and Linda Bernhardt had lived in their home at 1116 Dorothy Lane in the Billings Heights for only a month before they were found murdered on Nov. 7, 1973.
The house was just around the corner from Linda’s parents’ house. Linda’s mother went to check on the couple after not hearing from her daughter, and found the bodies in separate bedrooms of the house.
Both Clifford and Linda had suffered blows to the head, and Linda showed signs of strangulation and sexual assault. There were also signs that both were bound at the wrists and ankles at some point, though investigators could never find the bindings.
Clifford Bernhardt was an Army sergeant and was said to be in excellent physical shape and proficient in using weapons, which investigators noted would make a home invasion unlikely. An FBI profile of the killer was developed, painting a picture of a male who was acquainted with the Bernhardts and who may have had an infatuation with Linda.
Some reports said the dinner table was set with place settings for three people, lending further evidence to the theory that the killer was someone the couple knew.
A bowl of ice cubes was found next to Linda’s body. The killer opened the windows to the two bedrooms and turned the thermostat to its lowest temperature, possibly to conceal the time of death.
Investigators say the murderer also took Clifford Bernhardt’s suitcase and filled it with Linda’s underwear and shoes before untying both victims and leaving the house. The perpetrator locked the front door behind him.
DNA evidence was recovered from some of Linda’s clothing decades after the murders. A $100,000 reward was offered for anyone who provided information leading to an arrest in the case.
In 2019, Yellowstone County law enforcement officials announced that through forensic DNA investigation, the killer of Cliff and Linda Bernhardt was identified as Cecil Stan Caldwell, a coworker of Linda’s who died in 2003.
You must be logged in to react. Click any reaction to login.
Get the latest in local public safety news with this weekly email.
Durham, N.C. — Durham Police have made an arrest in a 17-year-old cold case, in which a woman was raped and beaten in her home.
Investigators said they have been combing through thousands of old sexual assault case files. During that process, investigator Winston Hunt said he noticed something that caught his attention. Hunt said he chased it down and that is why there is now an arrest.
Hunt is one of two Durham investigator devoted to solving sexual assault cases that have gone cold.
“It means a lot. I know it’s a big responsibility,” he said. “It feels really good to know that, as a team, we can come together to really solve stuff that is solvable.”
In 2020, Hunt said he was going through files from a 2005 rape case where a man broke into the home of an elderly woman on Gary Street, beat and sexually assaulted her. Hunt said the woman was home alone and getting ready to go to sleep. As soon as she laid down, Hunt said the woman head a noise coming from outside her bedroom, so she went to investigate.
“He attacked her, pushed her on the bed, beat her with an object, duct taped her [and] was looking through items in her home, looking for money, things like that,” said Hunt. “Then, when I guess he couldn’t find enough things, that’s when he proceeded to sexually assault her.”
“Sometimes, it can be hard to read things like that,” he said. “It really just strengthens the resolve to try to do everything you can.”
At the time of the crime, the only option was to run DNA through a state database. While going through the case file, Hunt said he recognized the DNA should be re-tested with newer technology available.
“It didn’t seem like a big thing I was doing,” said Hunt. “I had no idea it was eventually going to lead to this.”
In 2022, the new DNA test came back with a match: Timothy Rorie, 58, was already in the system from a 2008 charge. In February, Rorie was charged with first-degree rape, burglary and kidnapping for the 2005 assault.
Rorie remains at Durham County Jail with a $750,000 bond.
Hunt said while he’s grateful, he knows there is still a lot of work to do.
“When you go and talk to the victims and their families and see how it has affected them for so long, it really helps bring into perspective the good that’s coming from re-investigating and re-looking at cases and doing everything that you can to bring closure,” he said.
The survivor in this case is now in her 80s.
“Being able to bring closure to somebody who went through something so horrific is a good feeling,” said Hunt.
Hunt said he has spoken with her and her family and the trauma continues to affect her. But Hunt said the family is very glad to hear about the arrest.
“It means a lot for her. It means a lot for her family as well. She has a strong family group. For them, as a whole, to know the case wasn’t forgotten, and we did what we can and to get some closure for them has been really good for the family as a whole.”