A cold case is usually a violent crime that police investigators have not been able to solve. Cold cases have not been abandoned, but due to a lack of leads, the investigators have to wait for a witness to come forward, or for new evidence to appear.
Fortunately, science is making it possible to finally solve some cold cases. Here are 9 cold cases solved by DNA:
1. The murder of Deana Bowdoin in 1978
In 1978, the body of Deana Bowdoin was discovered by her boyfriend. She was found on her bed, with a belt tied around her neck. The investigators found DNA in her underwear, but since they were not able to link it to anyone, the case went cold.
Thanks to the evolution of DNA and forensic science, investigators were able to solve the case more than 20 years later. The DNA from the crime scene belonged to Wayne Dixon, a man who was already in prison. This was known as one of the first cold cases solved by DNA technology.
2. The murder of Patricia Beard in 1981
Patricia Beard, a mentally disabled young woman, was raped and strangled in her small apartment in 1981. She was found on her bed.
The famous cold case remained unsolved until July 2013, when DNA evidence from the crime scene was entered into a database, and matched the DNA of a man named Hector Bencomo-Hinojos. He denied knowing the victim, but DNA evidence clearly showed he had sexual contact with her just before her death.
3. The murder of Cyrus Jefferson in 1986
The body of Cyrus Jefferson was found in a field in 1986, and a suspect named Stacy Littleton was arrested following the testimony of a few witnesses. However, there was not enough evidence against Littleton, and the case went cold.
Investigators decided to review the case in 2017, and a black glove was noticed in photos of the crime scene. The glove was tested for DNA evidence, and it matched the DNA of the original suspect.
4. The murders of three prostitutes in 1990
In 1990, three prostitutes were killed with a .22-caliber handgun in Spokane, Washington. The police investigators thought those three murders were connected, but they were not able to solve the case at the time.
In 2005, DNA evidence from the case was entered into a database, and led to the arrest of Donna Perry in 2013. Perry used to be named Douglas Perry, but went through a sex change in 1990.
5. The murder of Angela Kleinsorge in 1992
In 1992, a woman named Angela Kleinsorge was raped and murdered in her home. She was 84 years old. Despite DNA tests, the case went cold for lack of evidence.
In 2012, however, a retired detective decided that she would not give up on that case. This time, there was a partial DNA match that led to a convicted man who was, it turned out, the brother of the killer, Jeffrey Falls, who died in a motorcycle crash in 2006.
6. The murder of Cynthia Epps in 1994
In 1994, a man named James Fountain called the police to tell them he had found the body of a woman named Cynthia Epps near his garage. The case went cold after an investigation.
It was reopened in 2010, and the investigators discovered that Fountain had been convicted of assault several times, and that he had already faced second degree manslaughter charges. They were then able to match his DNA to the DNA evidence found at the crime scene.
7. The murder of Anna Palmer in 1998
Anna Palmer, a 10 years old girl, was stabbed to death in front of her home in 1998. There was no witness, and not enough evidence to solve the case.
In 2009, forensic analysts examined the fingernails of the dead girl and were able to find DNA samples. They matched the DNA of a man named Matthew Brock, who was already in prison for a different crime. He is now serving a life sentence.
8. The abduction of Kamiyah Mobley in 1998
Kamiyah Mobley was kidnapped from the hospital only a few hours after her birth, in July 1998. Police investigators searched for her, but they could not find her.
In 2017, she was finally found alive and well, and living with her abducter, a woman named Gloria Williams who had renamed her Alexis Manigo. DNA tests proved the real identity of the young woman.
9. The murder of Sara Lynn Wineski in 2005
Even more recent cases can go cold when there is not enough evidence and leads to solve them. In 2005, the body of a woman named Sara Lynn Wineski was found outside a Ronald McDonald House. She had been raped and strangled.
The case went cold for some time, until investigators checked the DNA evidence again and matched it with the DNA of Raymond Samuels in 2013. He had been in prison since 2006 for another crime.