Crime DNA Links Colorado Murders From 34 Years Ago to an Inmate

05:50  11 august  2018
05:50  11 august  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

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Authorities have used DNA to link four cold case murders from 1984 in Colorado to a man already serving time for attempted murder and deadly assault charges in Trump praised Washington Post, pitched 'Make America Great Again' 5 years ago . The Note: Trump effect not what GOP hoped for.

When a match is made from a national DNA databank to link a crime scene to an offender having provided a DNA sample to a databank, that link is often referred to as a cold hit. DNA evidence was matched to Gafoor's nephew, who at 14 years old had not been born at the time of the murder in 1988.

an old picture of a person: Alexander C. Ewing in a 2008 Nevada prison photo. Mr. Ewing, who is serving a sentence for attempted murder and other crimes in Nevada, was linked by DNA to the murders of four people in 1984 in Colorado, the authorities said on Friday. © Nevada Department of Corrections, via Associated Press Alexander C. Ewing in a 2008 Nevada prison photo. Mr. Ewing, who is serving a sentence for attempted murder and other crimes in Nevada, was linked by DNA to the murders of four people in 1984 in Colorado, the authorities said on Friday.

The murders were as inexplicable as they were gruesome: separate killings six days apart in 1984 near Denver that claimed the lives of four people, including a mother and father and their 7-year-old daughter.

The father suffered 16 blows to the top of his head with a hammer and his throat had been cut, according to court documents. The daughter and mother’s skulls were fractured and the daughter had been sexually assaulted.

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Another daughter, who was 3, was also sexually assaulted and survived blunt-force injuries. Police officers found her next to a teddy bear in a bloody bed.

In the other murder, a 50-year-old woman was eating a Wendy’s hamburger at home when an attacker wielding a hammer struck her 17 times in the head, court records say. She too was sexually assaulted.

The killings haunted the police officers who responded to the scenes, the authorities would later say, and for decades detectives in the two communities where the murders occurred, Aurora and Lakewood, Colo., pursued leads and developed theories. Some of them retired or died, but the search for answers eluded them — until last month.

On Friday, the officials said that the DNA profile of a man in a Nevada prison on unrelated attempted murder charges matched with evidence found at the Colorado murder scenes.

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In 2009, DNA evidence from another murder victim, Mary Frances Bennett, was identified as matching Carpenter's DNA . Main article: Capital punishment in Colorado . Other. William Jay Gollehon[66]. Murder by bludgeoning of an inmate during a riot in 1991. 1992.

Alex Christopher Ewing is a Nevada inmate accused in hammer murders in the 1980s in Colorado . 1. Alex Ewing Is Accused of Using a Hammer To Kill Three Members of a Family. Two years ago , a company brought in by Aurora PD used DNA to create a composite of what the Bennett family killer

At a news conference to announce the break in the cases, Peter Weir, the district attorney for the first judicial district in Colorado, said: “Justice in this case has been delayed. I am confident that justice is not going to be denied.”

An arrest warrant has been issued for the inmate, Alexander C. Ewing, 57, and the authorities will seek to extradite him to Colorado, where he faces murder, sexual assault, burglary and related charges in connection with the four killings.

Court papers tell a story of what appear to be random home invasions with unclear motives.

The 50-year-old woman who was killed, Patricia Smith of Lakewood, was found wearing a ring with a gold coin. In the killings of the family — Bruce Bennett, 27; his wife, Deborah Bennett, 26; and their 7-year-old daughter — there appeared to be minimal ransacking.

While investigators recognized similarities between the murders from the start, technology then was limited. It was not until 2010 that a DNA link was established between the two cases.

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Two years into the investigation of Allison Feldman’s murder in Scottsdale, Arizona, the police had run out of options. Using software that searches for “familial” DNA links , crime lab technicians found a near match with an Arizona prison inmate . But more than a decade ago , British police developed a

Mr. Ewing has an extensive criminal history in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada of attempted murders, burglary and escape.

In Arizona, he was charged in 1984 with breaking into a man’s home and beating him on the head with a 25-pound slab of granite, according to court records. The man survived.

While he was being held on those charges and transported, Mr. Ewing escaped in Nevada and attacked a couple with a wooden ax handle, according to court records. The Arizona case was dismissed after he was convicted in Nevada and sentenced to eight to 40 years.

The break in the Colorado murders began after Nevada in 2013 mandated the collection of DNA samples from all inmates convicted of felonies. A previous state law applied only to those individuals convicted of a felony after 1997.

It was not until 2016 that the state attorney general issued an opinion clarifying that the rule applied retroactively to all felons regardless of when they were convicted; Mr. Ewing had been in Nevada prisons since 1984.

It was not immediately clear when Mr. Ewing’s DNA sample was collected, but on July 11, Lakewood detectives were told that the national database had linked his DNA to that found at the murder scenes, court records said.

“There’s got to be a mistake,” he told detectives who confronted him in prison, according to court papers.

He offered no explanation for how his DNA might have been found. Lab reports estimated that the probability of an unrelated individual at random having a matching DNA profile would be 1 in 230 quadrillion, based on evidence from one of the scenes analyzed.

The Aurora police chief, Nicholas Metz, said at the news conference that officials hoped that the victims’ families would gain a “sense of justice and be able to heal just a little bit more.”

In a statement, the family of Ms. Smith said: “It is difficult to imagine how much more fulfilling our lives would have been if Patricia Smith’s life had not been taken from us. It’s more difficult to imagine her death remaining a mystery. There is some relief.”

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