SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah sheriff who trailed a suspect across country for four days to grab a DNA sample from a cigarette butt says it solved the murder 18 years ago of a teenage prostitute.
Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner was the original investigator in the bludgeoning death of Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch along the Provo River near Midway in 1995, and he kept at it over the years.
A Utah lab, Sorenson Forensics, recently vacuumed the suspect's full DNA from a rock used to crush the girl's skull. It matched a sample that Utah authorities already had from Joseph Michael Simpson.
But the sheriff had to obtain a fresh DNA sample. He got it from a cigarette Simpson discarded at a smoke shop in Sarasota, Fla., and the arrest was made.
Bonner says the case has haunted him for years and he was finally able to solve it with advances in DNA technology.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
A Utah sheriff traveled to Florida and helped arrest a man in an 18-year-old murder case after authorities say they used DNA from a cigarette butt to link him to the crime.
Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner flew to Sarasota County, Fla., and helped take Joseph Michael Simpson, 46, into custody Tuesday.
Simpson, formerly of Clearfield, was being held on suspicion of aggravated murder in the killing of 17-year-old Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch, whose bloodied and broken body was found Dec. 6, 1995, along the Provo River near Midway.
Simpson waived extradition and will be brought to Utah within weeks to stand trial. Bonner expects charges will be filed soon in Utah's 4th District Court.
Beslanowitch originally was from Spokane, Wash. Authorities said she had been in Utah for only five months before her death.
It wasn't immediately clear how the suspect and victim might have known each other. Chief Wasatch County Deputy Jared Rigby said Simpson was not a boyfriend.
Bonner, the lead investigator on the case originally, said at a news conference Thursday he was thrilled at the arrest, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
"It's a case that's haunted me for almost my whole career," he said. Bonner added Beslanowitch's mother and stepfather were relieved at the news.
After years of dead-end leads, DNA technology improved and last January, investigators finally got a match on Simpson from evidence at the scene, authorities said.
To corroborate the evidence, Bonner and another detective flew to Florida on Aug. 25, and were able to get a new DNA sample from Simpson from a discarded cigarette without his knowledge. A test proved another match, the newspaper reported.
On Tuesday morning, Bonner, Wasatch County detectives and Florida investigators arrested Simpson without incident.
The sheriff said Simpson wouldn't talk about the case with investigators.
In a separate case, Simpson was charged with second-degree felony murder in 1987 and pleaded guilty two months later, according to Utah court documents.
He was paroled from the Utah State Prison in April 1995, and was free at the time of Beslanowitch's slaying, according to Utah Board of Pardons and Parole records.