Florida truck driver arrested in 1980 Colorado killing of MA college student

Debra

Jedi Master
The genetic Library that is being compiled, with the general public PAYING to have their DNA tested and then stored in an open data base, is proving to be a very Useful tool indeed.

The stories that we are seeing, tracking old crimes like this one, are very interesting and for "The Good".
What other DNA traits might be being tracked, I wonder?

Scrolling Banner News this morning:
Florida Truck Driver Arrested In 1980 Colorado Killing
USA
December 17, 2019 World News
1576611604655.png

A 62-year-old Florida truck driver has been arrested and charged in the killing of a college student working as an intern for a Denver radio station nearly 40 years ago
By COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press
December 17, 2019, 1:07 AM
DENVER — A Florida truck driver has been arrested and charged in the killing of a college student working as an intern for a Denver radio station nearly 40 years ago, a break in the cold case that authorities on Monday credited to the analysis of DNA information shared on genealogy websites combined with old fashioned police work.

James Curtis Clanton of Lake Butler, Florida, was arrested in the 1980 slaying and sexual assault of Helene Pruszynski, 21, after being surveilled by investigators for a week and extradited to Colorado over the weekend, Douglas County Tony Spurlock said. He was being held in jail in Douglas County and it was not clear if he has a lawyer representing him who could speak on his behalf.

Pruszynski was from Massachusetts and had only been working as an intern at KHOW-AM for two weeks when she was killed on Jan. 16, 1980, Spurlock said. She was found stabbed to death in a field the following day in what is now the sprawling community of Highlands Ranch. Investigators believe she was abducted while walking from a bus stop after work to her aunt’s home in Englewood, where she and a friend were living.
“This was a young girl who was just starting her life,” he said.

According to the court document laying out the evidence for Clanton’s arrest, he was on parole for rape in Arkansas after serving about four years in prison at the time Pruszynski was killed. He was released to live in the suburban Denver home of a former counselor who offered to help him.
Investigators preserved male DNA recovered from the scene but no analysis was done immediately after the slaying, according to the arrest affidavit. In 1998, a DNA profile was developed and uploaded to criminal database but no potential suspects were identified then or over the years as more people were added to it.

After a renewed effort to solve the case started in 2017, investigators turned to forensic genealogy to try to find relatives who had uploaded their DNA profiles to online public databases like Ancestry.com and GEDmatch.com, to trace their way back to a possible suspect.

According to the affidavit, investigators uploaded the suspect’s DNA information to GEDmatch.com which led to the identification of several potential distant relatives. Two of the top matches later authorized investigators to access their family trees on Ancestry.com.
After eliminating several other relatives, investigators focused on Clanton, formerly known as Curtis Allen White, and went to Florida to monitor him and obtain a surreptitious DNA sample in late November. A milk jug that they thought he may have thrown in the trash did not turn out to have the suspect’s DNA on it but a beer mug he was seen using at a bar did, according to the affidavit.

Clanton is charged with murder but not sexual assault directly because the statute of limitations has expired, 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said. However, Spurlock said investigators are looking into whether Clanton could have been responsible for other sexual assaults reported in the Englewood area around the time she was killed.

Spurlock noted that most of Pruszynksi’s close relatives have died over the course of the investigation, leaving her sister as the only one who could appreciate the news of an arrest.
“So many people are gone and don’t get to hear this,” he said.
———


This is a blog/forum post from 20 years ago, regarding this murder, AND the DNA search.
It was posted by "Joe1orbit" :
21/01/1999

Police in CO reopen 2 old murder cases,try to link convicted double murderer to never solved 1976 & 1980 rape-murders of 2 young gals
Hello,
It's always interesting and exciting to stumble across a little known fellow,
who just might qualify as being a genuine serial killer. Over in Colorado,
police have re-opened an investigation into the never solved 1980 murder of a
21 year old female college student. This gal was found naked from the waist
down, her hands tied behind her back, her body dumped in an open field. She had
been raped, then stabbed NINETEEN times in the BACK. Nobody has ever been
charged with this killing.

But we learn below that a team of investigators have joined together to
reopen this case, using advanced DNA gathering/analysis techniques that they
HOPE might lead them to the killer. The killer did apparently leave DNA
evidence, both HAIR and SEMEN, that was preserved by detectives. But older DNA
tests proved inconclusive, and cops hope that the latest advances in DNA
technology will enable them to at least either rule in or rule out ONE specific
suspect.

That man is Kenyon Tolerton. In 1980, he was found guilty of murdering a
young gal in CO. DNA evidence ALSO linked him to the killing of a 14 year old
girl whose body was found in 1993, 13 YEARS later. It would APPEAR as though
Kenyon, who used to work as a computer programmer, was found guilty of murder
#1 in 1980. He served SOME time in prison, but was paroled quite quickly, and
in 1993 he killed the 14 year old girl. He was put on trial for this second
murder, found guilty, and this time got a Life sentence with NO chance for
parole. Investigators STRONGLY suspect that he killed this 21 year old college
student in 1980 as well, AND they say he MAY have killed OTHER women and girls.
Police describe Kenyon as being: "serial killer of petite white females",
although right now he has only been found guilty of killing 2 gals, one in
1980, another in 1993. Since Kenyon is ALREADY in jail, serving a Life sentence
with no chance for parole, it would be cool if he got credited with ALL of his
killings. He does have to be careful though, as far as the risk of getting put
on trial for additional murder AND prosecutors perhaps seeking the death
penalty against him.

IMO, once a person has been sentenced to Life in prison with no chance for
parole, prosecutors should be PROHIBITED from putting this convict on trial
again, for other murders, IF those trials involve the seeking of a legal
murder/death penalty sentence. Regardless, it's nice to see that Kenyon might
end up officially declared a serial killer, if there is a DNA match on this
third gal victim.

The case of a 16 year old girl who disappeared the day after christmas in
1976, and was found raped, stabbed to death, and dumped in the woods, has also
been reopened. Nobody was ever arrested or charged with that killing either.
Seems likely to me that the cases ARE linked, and the same perp may well have
committed them both. If it's Kenyon, that would give him FOUR victims.

Take care, JOE


The following appears courtesy of the 1/20/99 online edition of The Rocky
Mountain News newspaper:

Old DNA spawns new clues

By Manny Gonzales
News Staff Writer

Authorities armed with the latest DNA technology are revisiting the unsolved
murder of a college student that has stumped investigators for 19 years.

In 1980, the body of Helene Pruszynski, a 21-year-old senior at Wheaton College
in Norton, Mass., was found stabbed to death in a frozen field just west of
Daniels Park in Douglas County.

Investigators from the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, Englewood Police
Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation joined to reopen the case
using cutting-edge DNA technology.

"With the advancements in technology, we're going to try some things we
couldn't do 19 years ago," Englewood detective Clay Forington said.

Pruszynski was last seen at 6:10 p.m., Jan. 16, 1980, when she stepped off an
RTD bus near South Broadway and Union Avenue in Englewood. She was staying at
an aunt's Englewood home five blocks away and working as a news intern at KHOW
radio.

Her body was found after a short but intensive search. Her hands were bound
behind her back, she had been raped and stabbed 19 times in the back. The body
was naked from the waist down.

Hair and semen evidence collected from the scene was so sparse that DNA tests
have been inconclusive. However, updates in testing coupled with the use of a
new DNA database may find a match among thousands of convicted rapists, said
Douglas sheriff's Sgt. Attila Denes.

"They're sort of doing detective work in reverse -- taking people who were
already convicted and then trying to connect them to the evidence," Denes said.


Investigator are trying to connect Pruszynski's slaying to three high-profile
murders about that time. They are checking for a connection to Kenyon Tolerton,
a computer programmer convicted of murdering Donna Waugh of Englewood in 1980.

Authorities used DNA evidence to link Tolerton, whom police described as a
"serial killer of petite white females," to the slaying of Cissy Pamela Foster,
14, whose body was found in a field near Byers in 1993.

Tolerton was sentenced to life without parole plus 48 years after pleading
guilty in that murder.

Denes declined to identify the other murder cases the task force is reviewing.

"There wasn't much detectives could do with the DNA evidence they collected at
the time," Denes said. "You gotta hand it them though. How could they fathom
the uses the evidence could serve in the future?"

January 20, 1999
--------------------------------------------------------------
The following appears courtesy of the 1/20/99 online edition of The Denver
Post newspaper:

2 old murder cases reopened

By Marilyn Robinson
Denver Post Staff Writer

Jan. 20 - Investigators are hoping DNA technology will help solve two slayings
that have stumped detectives for decades.

Helene Pruszynski, 21, was last seen alive Jan. 16, 1980, as she got off an RTD
bus near South Broadway and Union Avenue in Englewood on her way home from
work. The next morning, her body was found in a field near Daniels Park Road in
northern Douglas County. She had been raped and stabbed to death.

A college student from Massachusetts, Pruszynski was working as an intern at
radio station KHOW and staying with an aunt and an uncle in Englewood.

Holly Andrews, 16, disappeared Dec. 26, 1976, after leaving her mother's home
in Littleton. Her body was found the next day in the woods near Bakersville in
Clear Creek County. She also had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death.

The Pruszynski case recently was reopened by a task force of investigators from
the Englewood Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff's Department and
Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

"It's a pretty sad case,'' said Englewood Detective Clay Forington, a member of
the task force. "Shortly before she's to go home, she's taken and murdered.
It's not that she was taken from a bar or it was a drug deal. It's this
innocent young girl.''

This week, Forington, who has worked on the case off and on for many years,
called Pruszynski's 80-year-old father, Chester, to tell him it had been
reopened.

"The first words out of his mouth were, "Have you got good news for me?'‚''
said Forington.

Pruszynski said he and his wife have never given up hope that their daughter's
killer will be found.

"I think that somebody out there knows something about it,'' said Pruszynski.
"I've got to keep going until this is solved. That's why I'm still living.''

Authorities collected considerable physical evidence, but much of it was of
little value to investigators at the time. Task force members are hoping recent
advances in DNA testing and newly created DNA data bases of convicted sex
offenders will help solve the case.

"It's providing investigators with the opportunity to match evidence collected
at old crime scenes with suspects who are arrested in subsequent crimes,'' said
Sgt. Attila Denes of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department. "We're
essentially doing detective work in reverse.''

The CBI laboratory will be doing any additional lab work that needs to be done
in the case.

"We're looking at it with new technology and a fresh set of eyes,'' said CBI
Inspector Pete Mang.

The Andrews case recently was reopened by Clear Creek County authorities.

In 1983, mass-murder suspect Henry Lee Lucas confessed to killing Andrews, then
recanted.

"He's still a suspect,'' said Sheriff Don Krueger. "We're trying to find some
DNA evidence that will tell us for sure one way or another.'' Authorities have
solved several old cases recently through technological advances.

"We would like to look at some of the other murders from back in that time
frame to see if there are any similarities that might help in our
investigation,'' said Forington.
 
Top Bottom