BILLINGS, Mont. – Investigators solved a double slaying that occurred greater than 45 years in the past through the use of a family tree database to match DNA from the crime scene with the genetic profile of the now-deceased suspect, a Montana sheriff stated Monday.
Linda and Clifford Bernhardt, each 24, have been discovered useless of their Billings-area residence in November 1973 in a case that may stymie investigators for greater than 4 a long time.
Investigators now imagine the couple was killed by Cecil Stan Caldwell, a longtime metropolis of Billings worker who was as soon as a co-worker of Linda Bernhardt, Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder stated.
No motive was given. Caldwell died in 2003 on the age of 59, in response to his obituary within the Billings Gazette.
Members of the family of the victims attended a information convention during which Linder named Caldwell because the suspect. The household issued a press release thanking the sheriff’s workplace for its work, however made no additional remark and requested for its privateness to be revered.
Scott Goodwin, a volunteer with the chilly case unit who helped with the investigation, stated these concerned within the case had been unwilling to let it go even in spite of everything prior leads hit useless ends.
“We have been obsessive about it,” Goodwin stated. “These are two younger individuals who did not deserve what occurred to them. They did not do something. They got here residence on a Tuesday night time and so they have been murdered.”
The case had remained chilly till 2004, when DNA was found on proof gathered on the crime scene.
However evaluating that DNA towards an FBI database of identified criminals yielded no outcomes, leaving authorities annoyed.
In 2015, the sheriff’s chilly case unit enlisted a Virginia-based expertise firm, Parabon NanoLabs, to investigate the DNA by evaluating it to genetic samples out there by a public family tree database. That course of in the end narrowed the listing of suspects to Caldwell and his brother, who continues to be alive, stated Vince Wallis, a former detective captain with the sheriff’s workplace who now works for the Billings Police Division.
After DNA was obtained voluntarily from the brother, it was analyzed by the Montana State Crime Lab to get rid of him as a suspect. That left solely Caldwell, Wallis stated.
Wallis added different circumstantial proof together with “unspecified conduct” by Caldwell linked the suspect to the crime scene, however he declined to supply extra particulars.
An nameless donor in 2013 had provided a $100,000 reward for data resulting in the arrest and conviction of the couple’s killer.