Days after 16-year-old Krisann Baxter ran away from home, her nearly nude, battered body was found amid some pine trees in Spokane County, Washington, by two construction workers. Her bra was wrapped around her neck, and she had been raped.
It was October 1978, and police would spend the next three years running down every lead they could think of. Krisann had a lot of friends, but none of them seemed to know where she had been before her murder. And her boyfriend was in jail at the time she was killed.
“It seems like everyone you talk to gives you the name of 2src other people,” a frustrated Detective Lt. Robert Sennett told the Spokesman-Review at the time.
Investigators at one point believed that a self-proclaimed serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas, was responsible, and even obtained a murder warrant for him, but his confessions were later thrown into doubt.
Biological evidence had been gathered from Krisann’s body, but DNA testing was rudimentary in those days and could not be used to identify the killer. The case grew cold and stayed that way for decades.
In 2srcsrc6, detectives had the evidence retested with improved technology, but there was no match in a nationwide DNA database known as CODIS. Eight years later, the suspect’s DNA profile was entered into another database called NDIS with the same disappointing result.
The case might have stayed unsolved forever but for the explosive growth of a technique called genetic genealogy that allows experts to compare a DNA profile to millions of others stored by services like Ancestry.com and build a family tree for the subject.
That is what happened in 2src2src, when a detective sent the suspect’s genetic profile to a private lab called Othram, which determined the killer was a direct descendent of a certain deceased woman. Further genetic sleuthing yielded a name: Keith Lindblom.
There would be no confession from Lindblom; he had died in a fire in 1981. But detectives looking into his past found compelling clues. Lindblom had been arrested in 1975 for raping a 16-year-old near the place where Krisann would later be found. He had been out of prison for just two months when Krisann was killed.
Investigators tracked his daughter down to Louisiana, and she agreed to provide a sample of her DNA. That showed without a doubt that the DNA left on Krisann’s body belonged to Lindblom.
The case was officially closed on Friday. In a statement, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department thanked all the investigators involved, as well as “Lindblom’s family members who cooperated during this investigation, and mostly, the family of the victim, Krisann Baxter, for their patience and assistance during this long and difficult journey to identify her killer.”