DNA From Cigarette Butt And Sheriff’s Determination Help Solve 1995 Murder Of Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch

A sheriff’s refusal to quit on a case has led to the arrest of a man in a murder case that remained unsolved for nearly 20 years.

Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner, who was the original investigator in the bludgeoning death of Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch in 1995, flew to Florida last month to try and get a new DNA sample from their suspect, Joseph Michael Simpson, without his knowledge, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Fox News reports that Bonner said that Simpson, who was arrested Tuesday, was "never on our radar" until earlier this year, when a lab extracted "touch DNA" from the granite rocks used to crush the teen's skull.

Authorities already had a DNA sample from Simpson from an earlier incarceration, but prosecutors insisted that Bonner retrieve a fresh sample for a match. Bonner and another detective followed Simpson to a smoke shop, where he smoked and discarded a cigarette, Bonner said.

The test on the cigarette proved another match, so Bonner flew back to Florida to get him. On Tuesday morning, Bonner, Wasatch County detectives and Florida investigators arrested Simpson without incident.

A convicted murderer, Simpson had been paroled from Utah State Prison months before Beslanowitch's murder.

"It’s a case that’s haunted me for almost my whole career," said Bonner, who originally chased leads across Utah with other detectives for two years before the case had gone cold.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Beslanowitch was originally from the Pacific Northwest, but had been living in Salt Lake City and working as a prostitute, according to a description of the murder on the Utah Attorney General’s Office website. When officers found her unclothed body, she was lying face down in granite rocks, and several of the large rocks were covered in fresh blood, according to an affidavit for Simpson’s arrest warrant. The rocks appeared to be the murder weapons, the affidavit adds.

Sources: The Salt Lake Tribune, Fox News


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