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DNA On Vanilla Coke Can Leads To Arrest In Grisly Cold Case Murder Of Woman

David Anderson has been arrested in Nebraska for the Colorado murder of Sylvia Quayle after DNA tied him to the 1981 crime scene, authorities said.

By Gina Tron
How To Use DNA To Crack A Case

DNA on a Vanilla Coca-Cola can has led to the arrest of a suspect in a decades-old unsolved murder case of a Colorado woman.

Sylvia Quayle, 34, was murdered in August 1981. Her father found her nude body at her Cherry Hills Village home, KCNC-TV in Denver reports. She had been brutally stabbed and shot.

The Cherry Hills Village Police Department announced on Thursday that they have arrested the man they believed killed her: David Anderson, 62, who was taken into custody in Cozad, a small city in Nebraska.

The break in the case is a result of decades worth of work, officials explained at Thursday’s press conference.

Sylvia Quayle David Anderson Pd

Investigators had removed a section of a rug from Quayle’s home in 1983, which was sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in 1995 for testing. A DNA profile of a suspect was then developed in the year 2000. The biggest movement came after Cherry Hills Village Police Department began working with United Data Connect, a genetic genealogy company, last year, Denver station KUSA reports.

The genealogy company then took that DNA and uploaded it to both Family Tree DNA and GEDmatch and they were eventually able to narrow down their suspect to Anderson after sifting through thousands of options.

In January, investigators rummaged through their number one suspect's trash and collected, amongst other items, a can of Vanilla Coke. DNA found on that can matched the sample found on the rug at Quayle’s home, investigators say.

Anderson was arrested on Feb. 10 and he's expected to be extradited back to Colorado to face two counts of first-degree murder. 

On Thursday, investigators described Quayle as a “beautiful person” who was friendly, ambitious and loved.

“When I read this case and realize that her father found her, in the condition that I know she was in, the way that she was left, after being brutalized and killed, I can’t imagine, as a father myself of a young woman about this age, to have a morning like that,” Mitch Morrissey, co-founder at United Data Connect and former Denver District Attorney, said at Thursday’s news conference. 

He added that he's sad Quayle’s father isn’t alive to see this break in the case.

It’s not clear if Anderson has a lawyer. Investigators said he appeared to live a quiet life in Nebraska. He was employed at the time of his arrest; he was previously arrested in Colorado in 1989, but it's not clear on what charge.

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