The recent closing of two cold cases, the oldest ever solved by Seattle police, led to 20 years in prison for a 72-year-old Washington man.
The homicides, which reportedly took place in 1968 and 1972, had gone unsolved and the killer unpunished for almost four decades until recently. But DNA evidence allowed investigators to solve the case and bring the elderly man to justice.
The 1968 murder took place when the offender stabbed the man to death in his home. In the second incident, there were apparently no signs of forced entry. Following that incident, police reported that the offender had stolen the victim's car. The vehicle was later found to be abandoned after a hit and run accident two days after the victim was last seen to be alive. Police were never able to develop any leads on the case.
The second murder, three and one half years following the first murder, took place in the victim's Seattle home. After shooting the husband in the back of the head with a gun, the offender abducted and sexually assaulted the victim's wife. He then attempted to shoot her in the back of the head, but the bullet grazed the back of her head and knocked her unconscious. In 2007, she provided a description of the man but police weren't able to identify any suspects.
The man's DNA was obtained as part of a routine sexual offender release in 2009, and police were able to match it with DNA evidence taken at the scene of the previous crime.
The man reportedly has been extensively involved with the criminal law system since the two murders. In the 50 years since the killings, the man has spent 39 years in prison for convictions of manslaughter, armed sexual assault and armed robbery.
Source: Seattle Post Intelligencer, "Man sentenced in two Seattle cold case homicides," Casey Mcnerthey, 10 June 2011.