After Discarding Napkin, Man Arrested for 1993 Murder

Police believe DNA has solved another cold case
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2019 3:42 AM CST
Napkin From Hockey Game Leads to Arrest in Cold Case
Jerry Westrom.   (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office)

Police in Minnesota say a napkin discarded at a hockey game helped link a man to a brutal murder committed more than 25 years earlier. Investigators say 52-year-old Jerry Westrom was identified as a suspect after a close match to DNA found at the 1993 crime scene was discovered on a genealogy website, the Pioneer Press reports. Investigators followed him to a hockey game earlier this year. They watched him eat a hot dog, wipe his mouth with a napkin, and throw it away. Authorities say DNA on the retrieved napkin matched that from the murder of Minneapolis sex worker Jeanne Ann Childs, as did a DNA sample taken from Westrom after his arrest. Westrom has been charged with second-degree murder.

"The process is similar to the one used in the Golden State Killer case," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says in a press release, adding: “When you discard a thing in the trash, the Supreme Court says it is fair game." Investigators say Westrom lived in the Twin Cities at the time Childs was murdered in June 1993. According to an arrest report, her body was found in the shower of her apartment with the water running. She had been stabbed dozens of times. Authorities say Westrom's record includes a 2016 conviction for soliciting a prostitute. Westrom, a married father of two, has denied any connection to the killing, but has been unable to explain why his DNA was found in the apartment, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (An Alaska man was arrested after DNA evidence linked him to another 1993 murder.)

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