10 Murders That Were Solved Years Later
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Don Ekama
It may have taken years, but these infamous crimes were eventually solved. For this list, we'll be looking at murder cold cases where the perpetrator had already passed on before the crime was solved. Our countdown includes Susan Galvin, Joan Harrison, Virginia Vincent, and more.
Murders That Were Solved Years After The Murderers’ Deaths
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the 10 Murders That Were Solved Years After The Murderers’ Deaths.
For this list, we’ll be looking at murder cold cases where the perpetrator had already passed on before the crime was solved.
Are there any other killers who evaded justice through death? Let us know in the comments.
In 1967, 20-year-old Susan Galvin worked as a records clerk for the Seattle Police Department. After missing her shift on July 10th, Galvin was reported missing and her body was later found in the parking lot of the Seattle Center. The case grew cold over the years until 2002 when investigators retrieved some DNA from Galvin’s underwear. However, this failed to turn up any matches. Then in 2018 and 2019, using the same groundbreaking technology that helped to catch the Golden State Killer, they were able to link the crime to Frank Wypych. The only problem was that Wypych, who worked as a security guard at the Seattle Center, passed on in 1987 from complications due to diabetes.
On December 1st 1981, Virginia Freeman, who was a realtor in Texas, left home for a house showing and never returned. When her body was later discovered by her husband, it was clear that the 40-year-old wife and mother had died a vicious death. In 1997, investigators tried to link DNA from Freeman’s fingernails with that of James Otto Earhart, a convicted murderer on death row. They failed to obtain a sample from Earhart in time and he was executed in 1999. When more concrete evidence surfaced that pointed towards Earhart, it was already too late. His corpse was finally exhumed in 2018 and the DNA samples collected matched with that obtained from the crime scene.
Mary Agnes Klinsky
It took over fifty years to solve the murder of New Jersey high school senior Mary Agnes Klinsky. Klinsky’s body was found on September 16th, 1965, having suffered blunt force injuries to the head and an apparent assault. But even though her family finally got the closure they needed, they never got to see her killer, Robert Zarinsky, truly pay for his crimes. Zarinsky was serving a life sentence for another murder, and awaiting trial for a third case when he died of pulmonary fibrosis in 2008. He was confirmed as the perpetrator of Klinsky’s murder in 2016, when DNA retained from the original investigation matched his profile. Zarinsky was also a suspect in three other killings.
The senseless 1972 murder of 58-year-old Helen Sullivan in her Long Beach, California home left police puzzled for decades. Although DNA evidence and partial fingerprints were collected from the crime scene, the case went unsolved largely due to lack of the appropriate technology. But as time evolved and the technology was developed, it was revisited by investigators backed by the National Institute of Justice. In 2012, forty years after the unfortunate incident, the evidence was linked to an ex-con named Emanuel Miller. Miller, who was a career criminal, had just been paroled shortly before the murder. Sullivan’s family only received partial closure, however, as Miller passed on in 1990.
The Yorkshire Ripper claimed the lives of thirteen women between 1975 and 1980. At one point, the authorities believed that the infamous killer was also responsible for the death of Joan Harrison. Harrison was only twenty-six years old when her body was discovered in an abandoned garage in 1975. However, investigators never found evidence linking the Yorkshire Ripper to the murder… because they weren’t connected. Harrison’s killer was actually a convicted criminal named Christopher Smith, who died of cancer in 2008. Before his death, Smith was made to give a DNA sample after he was arrested for drunk driving. It was this sample, and a handwritten confession he left behind, that confirmed him as the perpetrator of the crime, three years later.
Retired Navy veteran Everett Delano was working at a garage in New Hampshire when he was shot and killed by an armed robber. The crime, which occurred on September 1st 1966, went unsolved for over fifty years, becoming the state’s longest-running cold case. In 2013, the case was reopened and police quickly zeroed in on a seasoned criminal named Thomas Cass, after his fingerprints matched those retrieved from the crime scene. Before he could be arrested, Cass took his own life in 2014, reportedly first hinting to his partner that he was involved in the crime. The fingerprint match and the statements made by Cass led police to conclude in 2019 that he was, in fact, Everett Delano’s killer.
More than two decades after 84-year-old Angela Kleinsorge was assaulted and killed in her San Diego home, police finally solved the case. Kleinsorge was murdered by one of her neighbors, Jeffrey Falls, who was still a teenager in 1992 when the incident occurred. Falls, however, evaded punishment for his crime, as he died in a motorcycle accident back in 2006. Investigators were able to link him with Kleinsorge’s murder in 2017 through familial DNA testing. Evidence from the crime scene matched Falls' brother and indicated that a member of his family was the perpetrator. Tissue samples from Falls’ corpse were then obtained from the coroner’s office and led to his identification as Kleinsorge’s murderer.
On September 20th 1985, the body of Virginia Vincent was found in her Danville, California apartment by a neighbor. Vincent had been assaulted and killed by an unknown individual. Although an extensive investigation was initially carried out, the case lacked any promising leads and eventually grew cold. It was reopened in 2017 and investigators once again relied on familial DNA testing to crack the case. They re-analyzed the crime scene evidence and found a likely suspect in a man named Joey Lynn Ford. Ford was thirty-six years old when he died in 1997, twelve years after the killing. His corpse was exhumed and a DNA sample was collected, which matched that found at the crime scene.
The ex-wife of The Righteous Brothers singer Bill Medley, Karen Klaas was attacked in her home on January 30th 1976. She was found unconscious and taken to the hospital, where she sadly passed on five days later without regaining consciousness. After decades passed with no promising leads, investigators turned to familial DNA testing which pointed them towards one Kenneth Troyer. In 2017, Troyer’s DNA was positively linked to biological evidence retrieved from the crime scene, identifying him as the murderer. Troyer was a notorious criminal who was serving time in prison for burglary when he broke out in 1982. He was killed that same year after engaging in a shootout with police officers who attempted to recapture him.
In 2018, the body of convicted criminal Robert Brashers was exhumed by authorities in Arkansas. After analysis was carried out on the DNA samples collected from the corpse, Brashers was linked to several murder cases, one of which was that of Jenny Zitricki. Back in 1990, 28-year-old Zitricki was assaulted and strangled to death in her Greenville, South Carolina apartment. While investigators worked tirelessly on the puzzling case, Brashers went on a crime spree across multiple states throughout the ‘90s and even served five years in prison during that period. He put an end to his own crimes when he shot himself during a run-in with police in 1999.