DNA fingernail testing leads to arrest of a suspect, 42 years after the murder

A more than 40-year-old murder cold case could be solved after the authorities collected the DNA sample from under the fingernails of the murdered woman.

The straight-out-of-a-fictional-book plot has transpired in reality in Las Vegas, USA where Sandra DiFelice, 25, was brutally raped and murdered on December 26, 1980.

Reportedly, after officers at Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department took another look at the case, they decided to use modern technology to test the DNA collected from under the fingernails of murdered DiFelice. 

Consequently, earlier this week on Monday, the police announced that they had arrested Paul Nuttall, 64 on suspicion that he was responsible for the rape and murder of the woman. 

“After Paul Nuttall was taken into custody, my cold case investigators had the pleasure of making the one phone call that every cold case detective wants to make,” said Las Vegas Police Lt Jason Johansson in a press conference. 

“I am hopeful that in some way, shape or form this provides some sort of closure for the family,” added Johansson. 

Read more: 50 years on, FBI identifies ‘Lady of the Dunes’ murder victim using DNA analysis

Notably, DiFelice, a new mother was found dead in a bed by her boyfriend after moving to Vegas from Boise with a childhood friend. 

DiFelice’s daughter, who was only three at the time was at her grandparent’s home when the murder took place. In February last year, she called cold case detectives at the department and asked for an update in the case.  

As reported by WION, earlier this week as well, it was DNA testing that helped a wrongfully convicted man receive true justice. 

WATCH | 1999 Baltimore murder case: Charges dropped against Adnan Syed

Maurice Hastings, 69, was released from a California prison having spent 38 years for a 1983 murder and two attempted murders, which, he, in fact, never committed. 

In 2000, he requested DNA testing of the material that was gathered by the coroner of the body of the murdered woman. 

The DA, however, refused his request. It was only last year that DA’s Conviction Integrity Unit tested the material and found that the semen on the murdered woman was not Hastings’. 

Read more: USA: Man wrongly incarcerated for 38 years released after DNA test

(With inputs from agencies)


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