Vermont police use DNA forensics technology and a cigarette butt to crack 1971 cold case

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Vermont police have lastly cracked the cold case of the homicide of a 24-year-old college instructor that occurred 52 years in the past with assist from DNA forensics expertise and one piece of proof — a discarded cigarette butt.

Burlington Police mentioned the DNA proof from a cigarette left on the crime scene led investigators to an upstairs neighbor who strangled Rita Curran to demise after preventing together with his spouse on a July evening in 1971.

In response to police, the suspect is William DeRoos, who was 31 on the time of the homicide.

The killing happened throughout a 70-minute window, after which DeRoos informed his spouse he was taking a “cool-down stroll.” He then informed his spouse — who he had been married to for less than two weeks — to not say that he had been out.

One in all Curran’s roommates found Curran’s physique after he returned and known as police. Investigators on the time mentioned Curran resisted fiercely.

The investigation was introduced again to life in 2019, and a repeated interview with DeRoos’ former spouse was performed. This time, she said that DeRoos had left the condo for a short while whereas Curran’s roommates had been gone.

Police mentioned the case will now lastly be closed.

“We’re all assured that William DeRoos is liable for the aggravated homicide of Rita Curran, however as a result of he died in a lodge room of a drug overdose, he won’t be held accountable for his actions, however this case might be closed,” Burlington Police Detective Lieutenant James Trieb, the commander of the Detective Companies Bureau, mentioned throughout a latest information convention.

DeRoos, who styled himself as a guru, moved to Thailand to grow to be a monk however later returned to the US. He died of a drug overdose in San Francisco in 1986.

Curran’s dad and mom have already handed away, however Curran’s brother and sister attended the occasion at Burlington police headquarters.

“I don’t assume a lot in regards to the man who did this as I do about Rita, my dad and mom and what they went by way of,” Curran’s brother, Tom, mentioned. “I pray to Rita and I pray to my dad and mom.”

After the case was reopened in 2019, Detective Trieb and a staff of investigators and technicians set to work on a key piece of proof left on the scene — a cigarette butt that was discovered close to Curran’s physique.

In 2014, the proof was despatched for DNA evaluation nevertheless it didn’t match any samples on legislation enforcement DNA databases on the time.

5 years later, the detectives contracted with a DNA testing firm to match the samples of genetic materials to those from the public compiled by commercial DNA testing companies.

Lastly, final August, detectives found that the pattern had been traced to relations on each side of DeRoos’ household.

Though DeRoos’ then-wife, Michelle, informed investigators on the time that she had not heard or seen something, she admitted to investigators in a latest interview that she had lied about her husband leaving.

A later spouse of DeRoos additionally informed detectives that he was susceptible to violent outbursts.

Detective Thomas Chennette, who interviewed DeRoos’ first ex-wife, mentioned he thinks she didn’t imagine her husband was liable for the homicide however was overlaying for him as he had a prison file.

“I believe she lied on the time as a result of she was younger. She was naive. She was newly married. She was in love,” Chennette mentioned.

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