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DNA Allegedly Links Former Attorney To 1972 Cold Case Of 19-Year-Old Murdered In Hawaii

Nancy Anderson was found stabbed to death by her roommate more than 50 years ago. On Tuesday, 77-year-old Tudor Chirila was arrested in Nevada for her murder.

By Jax Miller
5 Infamous Cold Cases of Murder

A man in Nevada has been arrested for the stabbing death of a woman more than 50 years ago, according to police.

Nancy Elaine Anderson was 19 years old when someone stabbed her to death in her Honolulu apartment on Jan. 7, 1972.

Honolulu police say authorities in Reno, Nevada arrested 77-year-old Tudor Chirila on suspicion of second-degree murder for Anderson’s death, several media outlets — including the Honolulu Star-Advertiser — reported.

"They contacted us, and we were able to find him,” Reno Police Department Sgt. Laura Conklin confirmed to the outlet.

Police haven't released much about Chirila, but Hawaii News Now reports that he was an attorney living in Honolulu in the 1970s and had worked as a graduate assistant at the University of Hawaii, just blocks away from Anderson’s residence.

Anderson was killed at 2222 Aloha Drive in Waikiki, where she lived with her roommate, 18-year-old Jody Spooner. Spooner reported last seeing Anderson with two salesmen at their shared apartment at around 2:30 p.m.

A police handout of Nancy Anderson

Spooner told authorities she went to take a nap and was awoken by a scream at around 4:15 p.m. but dismissed it. According to Fox Honolulu affiliate KHON, Spooner believed that Anderson had already left for work.

About 45 minutes later, Spooner heard running water from Anderson’s bathroom and went into Anderson’s bedroom, finding her dead on the floor, according to KHON. Anderson had sustained multiple knife wounds to her neck, chest and abdomen, the Advertiser reported, and blood was found on Anderson’s floor, in her bed and in her bathroom.

Towels from the women’s apartment were also found bloodied on the scene.

An outside view of Nancy Anderson's Apartment building

Over the years, the case grew cold — despite the fact that police conducted more than a dozen interviews as part of the original investigation.

In 2020, Honolulu police enlisted the help of Parabon NanoLabs, a Virginia-based company specializing in forensic DNA analysis. Hawaii News Now reported that the suspect’s DNA had been left on one of the apartment towels.

In Anderson’s case, they first used DNA phenotyping to predict the suspect’s physical traits based on physical evidence found at the 1972 crime scene, according to the Honolulu Police Department.

Specialists developed that the murder suspect may have been around 25 years old and of southern or southeastern European descent. He was likely fair-skinned with brown or hazel eyes and black or brown hair. He was also believed to have little to no freckles, per the Parabon Snapshot.

Parabon Snapshot of the suspect

Chirila would have been around 27 years old at the time of Anderson’s murder. A source told ABC Honolulu affiliate KITV that Chirila was first eyed as a suspect in December 2021, though police didn't tell the outlet why.

Honolulu police then tracked Chirila’s son down in April 2022 to obtain a DNA sample, leading them to the man now under arrest, according to KHON.

On Sept. 1, Honolulu police reached out to Reno authorities about Chirila, and the Nevada agency obtained a DNA sample directly from him on Sept. 6, according to KITV. Two days after police collected his DNA, Chirila allegedly tried to take his own life, according to court documents obtained by Hawaii News Now. 

The DNA results came back on Sept. 12, allegedly linking Chirila to the crime, and he was arrested on a no-bail warrant on Tuesday.

Police in Honolulu and Reno did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Oxygen.com.

Nancy Anderson was one of 10 children, and her siblings — including brother Jack Anderson —have maintained that they only want closure, according to KHON.

“She was an integral part of our family,” Jack told Hawaii News Now. “And when she was killed, it just left a hole in our hearts and in our family.”

Chirila remains in custody in Nevada, where he awaits extradition back to Hawaii.

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