Jerry Allen Mark, 79, is serving a life prison sentence for murder in the deaths of his brother and sister-in-law, Les and Jorjean Mark, and their two children, Julie, 5, and Jeff, 18 months.
Prosecutors allege Jerry Mark shot and killed the family in their sleep because of a disagreement over inheritance of the family farm.
Jerry Mark has always said he is innocent of the crime, and over the years some of the evidence presented to the jury at his original trial has been debunked. The case even came close to a retrial in 2006.
Efforts to re-examine the case resumed in 2018 when the State Public Defender’s Office asked the court to review evidence as part of a U.S. Department of Justice grant to review convictions in cases that involved hair microscopy.
Then in 2021, the office sought to duplicate 8 mm film of Jerry Mark walking that was in evidence. The film had been used with testimony about his gait as it related to footprints found at the scene.
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The defense team is now reviewing chrome cupboard drawer pulls, bullets, a basement electrical panel and a note about the will found in a coat in the bedroom that investigators seized to check for fingerprints. They are also taking another look at lifts of a palm or glove print found on a stairway wall at the home and prints on doors to the master bedroom.
Human remains found in Texas nearly 10 years ago have been identified as Sylvia Nicole Smith, a teenager who had gone missing in 2000, Texas officials said. DNA testing helped authorities create a profile for the remains, and Smith’s mother was able to confirm her identity last month.
A homicide investigation is now underway, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement on Monday.
The partial remains were found by workers surveying near an oilfield well site south of Midland on August 1, 2013, the DPS said.
Following the discovery, the remains were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, where an anthropology report was completed and DNA was extracted. The testing revealed that the victim was a female between the ages of 14 and 21 who was likely the victim of a homicide, the DPS said.
The DNA results were put into the Combined DNA Index System and got no results. But in 2020, the Texas Rangers and the Midland County District Attorney’s Office sent the remains to two labs for advanced DNA analysis, and learned the victim was of African-American descent. They also confirmed her eye and hair color, according to the DPS.
From there a genetic genealogist who examined the DNA found a match, which led authorities to a distant relative. The Texas Rangers interviewed multiple potential relatives to gather family information, the DPS said.
In May 2022, information led authorities to Smith’s mother in the Midland area.
“In speaking with the mother, she stated one of her daughters — Sylvia Nicole Smith — had been missing since 2000,” the DPS said.
The 16-year-old was last seen on February 14, 2000, by her mother, who filed a runaway report with the Midland Police Department…
DNA evidence was used to solve a murder at the Prince Murat Motel more than 25 years later.
71 year-old Alan Lefferts now facing a first degree murder charge after TPD says new technology played a significant role in his arrest.
Thanks to some new technology, TPD was able to reopen this cold case and find some closure for the family of victim James Branner.
The crime scene dates all the way back to 1996 at the Prince Murat Motel on North Monroe Street where James Branner was found dead in a room.
And thanks to the use of new technology, Detective Brittney Able helped crack the case leading to the arrest of the man they believed killed him more than 25 years later.
”I submitted the DNA that we did have on scene that we know was not the victims to FDLE and Parabon and they did some genealogy testing on it which then provided me with leads to follow up on,” shared Detective Able.
That new tech is called Investigative Genetic Genealogy Technology, which was originally used to connect family trees.
”We’re taking unidentified crime scene DNA from violent criminals or from unidentified remains and we’re trying to reverse engineer the identify of that person based on who they’re sharing DNA with in two genetic genealogy databases,” explained Parabon Chief Generic Genealogist CeCe Moore.
Law enforcement was then able to take this information and use it to create a short list of suspects.
”Florida created their own genealogy team at FDLE and so we’re able to work with them collaboratively in addition to the detectives on the case to help narrow it down to a very small number of possible individuals,” said Moore.
That information led to the arrest of Lefferts and showcasing the importance of continuing to work cold…
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…
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – We’re learning how detectives identified a 40-year-old missing persons case in Pulaski County.
“Jane Doe” was finally identified as Karen Knippers.
“Our mission is to return the names to the nameless,” said Franchesca Werden, with the DNA Doe Project.
She says there are nearly 60,000 unidentified people across the country.
“These are the cases that keep the folks of law enforcement agencies who are shepherding them, up at night,” she said.
Pulaski County Sheriff’s detectives reached out the organization for their help.
A woman’s body was found at a low water crossing in Dixon in 1981. Decades later the ‘Jane Doe’ buried in the Waynesville cemetery had a name Karen Knippers.
“It’s always a thrill when the solve comes through,” said Cairenn Binder.
She was the lead on the Pulaski County case.
“I’m a nurse educator by day and a detective by night,” she said.
The volunteer investigative genetic genealogist says solving these cases often takes a lot of time.
“There’s a lot of stuff that happens before we even get involved,” said Binder.
Investigators reopened Knippers’ case in 2012 Her remains were exhumed to get DNA samples.
Then, anthropologists successfully developed a genetic profile.
That information was converted into data that’s compared to other samples electronically.
“We take a match from over here and a match from over here. We build out their family trees to see who they’re most recent, common ancestor is. In this one we were lucky we got that close DNA match and as a result of it we were able to solve it pretty quickly,” said Binder.
She matched Knippers’ DNA profile to a second cousin. That profile was then compared to her brothers.
This gave closure to not only to authorities and community but…
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…
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.
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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.
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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — There are hundreds of unsolved homicide cases, long-term missing person cases, and unidentified remains cases in Colorado where at least three years have passed since the crime happened.
The Colorado cold case task force created a list of those cases dating back to 1970. The Problem Solvers are working to highlight cold cases in our state.
Who killed JonBenét Ramsey?
It has been 25 years since JonBenét Ramsey was found dead. Her murder is considered by many to be one of the most notorious cold cases.
The 6-year-old was found dead in the basement of her Boulder home on Dec. 26, 1996 after her family reportedly found a ransom note inside the home. An autopsy revealed Ramsey was strangled to death.
As of Dec. 2021, the Boulder Police Department said they processed more than 1,500 pieces of evidence related to the murder of Ramsey.
At that time, the Boulder Police Department said “it was actively reviewing genetic DNA testing processes to see if those can be applied to this case moving forward.” BPD said nearly 1,000 DNA samples have been analyzed.
In 2019, Burke Ramsey, the brother of JonBenét, reached an undisclosed settlement in a $750 million lawsuit against CBS. The lawsuit said that Burke Ramsey’s reputation was ruined after a television series suggested he killed JonBenét.
In 2008, then-Boulder County District Attorney Mary Lacy wrote a letter to John Ramsey, JonBenét’s dad, saying new DNA evidence had cleared him, his wife and son. She formally apologized for the cloud of suspicion the Ramsey’s lived under for years.
“We believe at this point it is unlikely there will ever be a prosecution,” Boulder police said in 2008
Ramsey’s mom, Patsy, died of ovarian cancer in 2006.
Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact the BPD tip line at 303-441-1974, send an email to [email protected] , or contact Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or www.nococrimestoppers.com.
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System shows there are currently 21,556 open missing persons cases in the United States and over 300 in Colorado.
SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) – The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of a St. Matthews man in connection with a 1998 killing.
Charles Edward Goodwin Jr,, 43, is charged with murder in the Dec. 20, 1998, killing of 42-year-old Stephanie Thompson, according to court documents.
Dorchester County Sheriff L.C. Knight said Goodwin was arrested in an unrelated felony DUI case but that his DNA was put into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System. A CODIS hit on his DNA on Dec. 10, 2021, then connected him to the Thompson case, Knight said.
“After the sheriff’s office did all their work, compiled all the evidence, put all the DNA we had into the system, we waited and hoped for some results and all of a sudden it pops up,” Sheriff L.C. Knight said. “This young man’s DNA hit the system and we got a positive reaction on it.”
Deputies said Goodwin was arrested Monday morning in Greenville.
The original incident report states Thompson’s body was discovered approximately 20 feet into a wooded area off Franchise Street in North Charleston on Dec. 21, 1998. Franchise Street is directly across from the entrance to Archdale, Lt. Rick Carson said.
The body was discovered by a hunter who was looking for a place to squirrel hunt, the report states. Investigators said the victim was lying face-up on the ground and her clothing below her waist had been removed.
Carson said Thompson had been seen the night before with a man leaving a trailer on Franchise Street. The witness was able to provide a description of the man that led to a composite sketch. DNA evidence collected at the crime scene was sent for analysis, the warrant states.
The cold case was chosen because of a good evidence sample of DNA, which was sent to a private genetics genealogy testing company, Carson said. The results of that test narrowed the search field and also provided an artist’s rendering of the suspect, which Carson said had “a strong resemblance” to the original composite sketch.
Investigators did not say whether they believe Goodwin and Thompson knew each other, but the warrant also alleges that Goodwin “provided false and misleading information about his involvement” in the case during interviews.
Thompson was the mother of three children and her family has been notified of Goodwin’s arrest, Carson said.
“I’m just proud that we were able to bring it to conclusion and we’ll see what the court does with it,” Knight said at a Tuesday morning news conference.
Knight said Goodwin was questioned during the original investigation but said that while he was not cleared, there was not enough evidence to move forward with a case against him.
Detective Adam Wright described Goodwin’s demeanor at the time of his arrest as being with “no emotion.”
“Whenever I told him he was under arrest for murder, he simply said, ‘OK,’” Wright said.
Goodwin was taken to the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office Monday and was being held at the L.C. Knight Detention Center after a bond hearing Monday afternoon during which a judge denied bond.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Nearly thirteen years after the death of a newborn girl whose body was found alongside a road in the Town of Theresa, Dodge Co. officials gathered Friday to announce the investigation into the death of “Baby Theresa” had been resolved and her mother identified and taken into custody.
The mother, identified as Karin Luttinen, made her first court appearance on the same day as the news conference to announce her arrest. Sheriff Dale Schmidt explained that after consulting with the local District Attorney’s Office, they determined the proper charge in this case is Concealing the Death of a Child, relating to the issue of a woman. The charge carries a possible sentence of up to three and a half years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Court records indicate that Luttinen’s cash bond was set $2,500 and that she had posted it following the hearing.
Aneeq Ahmad, Luttinen’s attorney, stated that due to ethical rules during the active investigation, comments on behalf of Luttinen are limited.
“As the District Attorney explained, this case involves the death of a stillborn child, which is always a tragedy for the parents involved,” Ahmad stated. “Further facts about the case will come to light over the course of the legal process. As every person is presumed innocent under the law, I would ask that the community respect Ms. Luttinen’s privacy in the meantime.”
The newborn’s body was discovered inside a garbage bag on April 29, 2009, along Lone Road, near the Village of Theresa. The investigators working on the case started calling her “Baby Theresa” to offer her an identity, naming her after the village near where she was found.
Schmidt recounted everyone working to identify the girl’s family members so they could give her a respectful and dignified burial. “Baby Theresa” was laid to rest on May 11, 2009, Schmidt continued, noting that no family members may have been found to attend, but the Dodge Co. community were there to pay their respects.
The criminal complaint offered clues into how investigators tracked down Luttinen after years of searching, starting with the DNA recovered at the scene. At the time “Baby Theresa” was found, officers were able to gather genetic evidence from the newborn as well as the bag and its other contents. Some of the DNA discovered was determined to belong to a close female relative that investigators assumed was from child’s mother.
According to the complaint, results from a Family Tree DNA sample identified someone with the last name of Luttinen as a potential match. Family Tree is a DNA testing agency that offers genetic testing to determine relationships between individuals or to learn more about a person’s ancestry. The company’s privacy statement indicates DNA submitted may be used “to comply with the law and requests from government bodies” including law enforcement agencies. The complaint does not indicate when officers learned of the possible connection.
Investigators first made contact with Luttinen, along with her longtime boyfriend whose name was not included, in January of last year. At the time, they both agreed to submit DNA swabs. Analysis showed that DNA collected at the scene was found on the scene and the pair were almost certainly the parents. In a phone call, authorities informed Luttinen’s boyfriend that he was the likely father, to which he expressed repeated surprise. After that, the complaint continues, the call was placed on speakerphone and Luttinen was told she was the mother, eliciting just the word “OK.”
Five years after “Baby Theresa” died, the district attorney’s office filed a charge against the DNA profile believed to belong to the mother. While the Sheriff’s Office and prosecutors did not know the mother’s name, by moving forward with the charge in 2014 they were able to beat the six-year statute of limitations. That is why they are able to prosecute Luttinen now, Schmidt indicated.
In further interviews, Luttinen and her boyfriend both claimed not to know she was pregnant. Luttinen told investigators she thought she may be pregnant but was in denial. Toward the end of the pregnancy, the complaint states she thought she knew for sure she was pregnant, but her mind could not grasp the concept. The complaint details the events that culminated in “Baby Theresa” being born.
During Friday’s news conference, Dodge Co. Medical Examiner P.J. Schoebel stated that an autopsy performed the next day did not find evidence that the child had been murdered. Instead, investigators determined her death was the result of ‘fetal demise,’ which Shoebel said indicated that she died prior to or during birth. After speaking with Luttinen and weighing her description, the medical examiner determined the cause of death would remain. As a result, a reckless homicide would not apply.
At the conclusion of the news conference, Schmidt complimented Det. Vickie Brugger and Schoebel as the lead investigators on the case, saying “(t)hey never gave up and pursued absolutely every lead imaginable since Baby Theresa was discovered in 2009.” He also acknowledged the entire Dodge Co. Sheriff Office’s criminal investigative division for assisting Brugger and Schoebel. Schmidt also individually thanked:
Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Timothy Bauer – conducted the funeral service.
Todd Michael and the staff at Cornerstone Funeral Home – donation of services.
Matt Lober – vocalist at the gravesite during the funeral.
Retired Sheriff Todd Nehls – providing resources in the initial investigation.
Retired Correctional Officer Hanna Mueller – conducted a forensic drawing of Baby Theresa.
Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg – provided legal guidance and prosecution of this case.