A Minnesota man’s trash turned out to a treasure trove for detectives looking to solve a more than 25-year-old cold case.
Police in Minneapolis arrested 52-year-old Jerry Westrom last Monday after DNA found on a napkin he tossed at a hockey game linked him to the 1993 murder of Jeanne Ann “Jeanie” Childs, who was 35 when she was killed, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
According to the complaint, a tenant in Childs’ Minneapolis apartment building at the time called police after seeing water coming from her apartment. She was found dead in her shower, and the water had been left running. Finger-, palm- and footprints were discovered at the scene, investigators said.
Westrom became a suspect after the FBI ran DNA evidence collected from the murder scene through a genealogy website’s database in 2018 and his name came up, according to The Associated Press.
In January investigators followed him to a hockey game and secretly confiscated a napkin he used and tossed in the trash after eating a hot dog.
Westrom was charged with second-degree murder and was released from jail on Friday after posting a $500,000 bond, according to the AP.
Prosecutors said the DNA linking Westrom to the murder came from two sperm samples found on a comforter and a towel at Childs’ home, according to the Star-Tribune.
Local station WCCO reports that after he was arrested, he denied ever being in the apartment where the murder took place. He also insisted he did not know the victim and that he did not have sex with any women in Minneapolis in 1993.
When investigators told him about the DNA evidence, Westrom allegedly told them he had no idea why his DNA would have been at the scene.
His attorney Steven Meshbesher attempted to raise doubts about the DNA evidence in court on Friday, noting that Childs worked as a prostitute, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
“The sperm shows up allegedly matching, but not the blood,” Meshbesher said. “What we’ve got is not any record of violence, not connecting it to the blood, not to the weapon — because they didn’t find it.”
Westrom’s next court date is scheduled for March 13.