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Crime News Cold Cases

1988 Murder Suspect ID'd After Licking Envelope And Sending Letter To Local Newspaper About The Homicide

Police say the murder suspect mailed a letter to a local newspaper after Anna Kane's murder made a newspaper cover in 1990. DNA has identified Scott Grim, who died in 2018, as the author.

By Jax Miller
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DNA found on an envelope has helped identify a suspect in the murder of a Pennsylvania mother found dead more than 30 years ago, authorities say.

The body of Anna Kane, 26, was found on the side of a Berks County, Pennsylvania, road on Oct. 23, 1988. According to Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers, Kane was beaten and strangled to death before someone dumped her body along the Ontelaunee Trail Road in Reading.

More than a year later, a “concerned citizen” sent a letter to the Reading Eagle when news of Kane’s strangulation murder made the cover in 1990. Pennsylvania State Police troopers said the author included “numerous intimate details” about the homicide in the letter, per a PowerPoint presentation e-mailed to Oxygen.com. However, they did not elaborate on what the sender specifically wrote in the letter.

Although DNA was extracted from the author’s saliva, which was used to seal the letter’s envelope, the sample yielded no matches until investigators recently tried genetic genealogy, a modern scientific method used to map out the DNA of the subject’s biological relatives.

A police handout of victim Anna Kane

In this case, the new scientific method led to Scott Grim, said the Pennsylvania State Police. But the recent identification of Scott Grim continues to puzzle some, as he hadn’t been on investigators’ radar previously.

The motive for the murder remains unknown, and Grim died in 2018 at the age of 58 of natural causes.

Sgt. Nathan Trate of Troop L said it wasn’t a lack of physical evidence that prevented investigators from solving the case but rather a lack of technology.

“All of that stuff was collected,” Trate said during Thursday’s press conference. “It was preserved as it should be because (investigators) knew probably somewhere down the line what they collected could be that little piece of evidence of what they needed.”

Anna Kane was last seen at around 1:00 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 23, 1988, near Franklin Street and South 6th Street in Reading. Her body was found about 12 hours later after someone used baling wire to strangle her.

A police handout of Scott Grime

Investigators believed she was killed elsewhere because Kane’s clothes were dry, despite a night-long rainstorm.

According to the Eagle, Kane was a mother of three and a sex worker who operated in the area. It is likely she was working when she disappeared.

A DNA profile was created early in the case after the suspect left physical evidence on the victim’s clothes. In 1998, investigators ran the DNA sample through the FBI’s then-new Combined DNA Index System, CODIS, though the inquiry led nowhere.

But the recent use of genetic genealogy - thanks to Parabon Nanolabs - led investigators to Grim, who lived in the Hamburg area, according to police. Little was made public about Grim, but police said they obtained Grim’s direct DNA, which matched the DNA found at the 1988 crime scene and the envelope sent to the Reading Eagle.

The DNA also matched another letter Grim allegedly sent to his former business partner two decades ago. Exeter Township Police had collected the letter as evidence after Grim was arrested for harassing the recipient in 2002.

Police searching for Anna Kane

Kane’s daughter, Tamika Reyes, told Allentown affiliate WFMZ-TV that she was “shocked” and “a little overwhelmed” by the news of Grim’s alleged involvement in her mother’s murder.

“Happy that we finally have some sort of closure,” said Reyes. “Sad that my grandmother couldn’t be here to get that closure. Made that he’ll never have to face the consequences of his actions.”

In a statement e-mailed to Oxygen.com, Pennsylvania State Police said they are still trying to iron out the details of their suspect.

“Police are still looking into some aspects of Scott Grim, including where he lived, where he worked, and with whom he associated,” police stated, adding he was 26 years old at the time of the murder, the same age as Anna Kane.

According to the Eagle, Grim lived in the Reading area but moved to Birdsboro - about 10 miles from Reading - shortly before the murder.

“This cold case investigation is a prime example of the due diligence of the Pennsylvania State Police and the Berks County District Attorney’s Office,” said Captain Robert Bailey, commanding officer for Troop L. “Every victim, despite their background, deserves closure.

"I hope this sends a message to the citizens of Berks County that we are willing to do anything in our power to investigate any case that comes our way,” Bailey concluded. 

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