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A Minnesota man was found guilty of murdering a mother more than 36 years ago when he was still a teenager.
Michael Carbo Jr., 54, is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury found him guilty on Tuesday for the 1986 murder of Nancy Daugherty, according to a St. Louis County Attorney’s press release. Daugherty’s case went unsolved for decades until 2020 when investigators enlisted experts to utilize genetic genealogy to reexamine physical evidence from the crime scene, linking Carbo to the murder.
Carbo, who was 18 years old when Daugherty was killed, had not been on authorities’ radar prior to the 2020 review.
“The County Attorney’s Office would like to express its deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Daugherty for their loss,” said St. Louis County Attorney Kim Maki. “Ms. Daugherty was a wonderful woman who was taken far too soon.”
On July 16, 1986, Nancy Daugherty was found dead in her Chisholm, Minnesota, home - about 80 miles north of Duluth - after local police responded to requests for a welfare check, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety.
Daugherty was a married mother of two who worked as an aide at a nursing home and tended bar part-time, according to the Duluth News Tribune. Her husband was overseas in Germany with the National Guard when someone murdered her.
The night before the murder, Daugherty went drinking with a boyfriend, who was reportedly supposed to help her move the following day, according to court records obtained by the Tribune. The boyfriend, who was not named, dropped Daugherty off at her home in the early morning hours before alerting authorities when he could not contact her later that day.
Someone had beaten, strangled, and sexually assaulted Daugherty before police found her dead in her bed. Evidence indicated a struggle both inside and outside the home, and witnesses said they heard screams at around 3:30 a.m.
Physical evidence collected from the scene included the victim’s fingernail clippings and the suspect’s DNA collected from Daugherty’s rape kit.
Investigators submitted the DNA into criminal databases and compared it to DNA collected from more than 100 people, but the examinations yielded no results. But in 2020, investigators with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Chisholm Police Department requested Parabon-NanoLabs step in and use genetic genealogy testing against the evidence, eventually linking Carbo to the crime.
He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder while committing criminal sexual conduct, according to the County Attorney’s office.
Carbo’s arrest was a surprise for investigators, who hadn’t heard up to that point. They learned Carbo went to school with Daugherty’s children and lived within a mile of the Daugherty home, but it did not appear that Carbo and Daugherty knew one another.
Daugherty's daughter, Gina, released a brief statement following the arrest, according to CBS News.
"There are no words to describe the terrible holes that were left in so many lives, including my own,” she said. “So many tears and struggles. She has missed so much, and I miss her love and guidance.”
During the trial, which began on Aug. 8, Carbo’s defense argued the sex between Carbo and Daugherty was consensual, never contesting that his client’s DNA was found with the victim, according to the News Tribune. Defense attorney J.D. Schmid stopped short of naming an alternate suspect but implied one of Daugherty’s acquaintances killed her in a jealous rage after allegedly seeing Daugherty and Carbo engaged in a sexual act.
The jury disagreed following nine hours of deliberation.
Carbo’s lawyer said they intend to appeal the verdict.
St. Louis County Attorney Maki said the crime “shook” local residents and “prompted one of the most exhaustive investigations in St. Louis County,” according to Tuesday’s release.
Investigating agencies included the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Chisholm Police Department, the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, and other agencies assisting with the case.
“Today, the jury’s verdicts affirmed that those agencies discovered in their dogged investigation that Michael Allen Carbo Jr. raped and murdered Nancy Daugherty in the early morning hours of July 16, 1986,” said Maki. “The County Attorney’s Office is pleased with the courage and commitment to justice shown by the jury, despite the age of the case.”
The charges for which Carbo was found guilty each carry a mandatory life sentence. A formal sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 30.
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