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Police Say DNA Ties Nevada Man To Rape And Murder Of Woman 42 Years Ago

Police say that DNA finally tied one-time suspect Paul Nuttall to the 1980 murder of Sandra DiFelice, who was the roommate of an acquaintance of his.

By Dorian Geiger
5 Infamous Cold Cases of Murder

The DNA found underneath the fingernails of a 25-year-old woman who was found slain in Las Vegas on the day after Christmas in 1980 has led police to her killer more than four decades later, officials said.

Paul Nuttall, 64, was taken into custody at his home last week in connection with the cold case murder of Sandra Renee DiFelice, the Las Vegas Police Department announced on Monday.

He was charged with murder, sexual assault and burglary while in possession of a firearm or deadly weapon.

DiFelice's boyfriend found her body in her bed in her Bonanza Road home in Las Vegas on Dec. 26, 1980, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

She’d been strangled, police said, and evidence collected at the scene suggested the Idaho native had also been sexually assaulted. She’d last been seen alive by her roommate roughly two hours before her death.

Police at the time failed to arrest any suspects in DeFelice’s homicide.

A police handout of Sandra DiFelice

Police did, however, initially identify Nuttall as a possible person of interest in the 25-year-old’s killing after a fingerprint belonging to him was found in DeFelice’s home. However, he was ultimately cleared after authorities learned that he knew DiFelice’s roommate.

The case went cold.

When the case was recently reviewed, detectives learned that possible DNA found under DiFelice’s fingernails had never been tested. A new analysis allegedly revealed that the DNA evidence matched Nuttall.

Nutall was arrested at his residence on Oct. 27. 

A police handout Paul Nuttall

“After Paul Nuttall was taken into custody, my cold case investigators had the pleasure of making the one phone call that every cold case detective wants to make,” Metro homicide Lt. Jason Johansson said — referring to the victim’s adult daughter, who was only three at the time, per a Las Vegas Review-Journal report.

“I am hopeful that in some way, shape or form this provides some sort of closure for the family,” Metro homicide Lt. Jason Johansson told the media at a press conference, NBC News reported.

The headquarters for motorcycle gang the Hell’s Angels is now located at the site where the murder occurred, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

DiFelice, who was originally from Boise, had moved to Las Vegas with a childhood friend and was working as a waitress at Sambo’s Restaurant — then a popular chain — per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. DiFelice’s daughter, who also lived at her residence, had been staying with her grandparents at the time of her mother’s murder. 

Nuttall appeared in court on Monday. He’s being held without bond at a Clark County detention facility, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. Upcoming court date information for Nuttall wasn’t available on Tuesday, and it’s unclear if he’s retained legal representation.

Nuttall was arrested three times between 2009 and 2011 for felony and misdemeanor drug possession.

A spokesperson for the Las Vegas Police Department wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by Oxgyen.com on Tuesday afternoon.

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