DNA Evidence Leads to Charges in 1983 Murder

Darrell Bruce Rea Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Department
Darrell Bruce Rea

September 13, 2017 02:20 PM

Authorities say DNA testing has resulted in charges being filed in a murder case that dates to 1983.

That's when the body of a 17-year-old girl who had been brutally beaten was discovered between two railroad tracks on the Soo Line near 28th Avenue North in Minneapolis.

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Now, 62-year-old Darrell Bruce Rea of St. Louis Park has been charged with second-degree murder in the case. Bail was set at $1 million without conditions.

According to the criminal complaint, officers discovered the body of the girl, identified as Lorri Mesedahl, lying between two railroad tracks and next to a gondola car on the morning of April 2, 1983. She was lying in a pool of blood and officers observed blunt force trauma to her head, especially to her right eye.

Another pool of blood was reportedly discovered a few feet away, from which two foot tracks were said to lead across a set of railroad tracks and into a dirt parking lot where fresh tire tracks were present.

During the investigation, the complaint states, authorities learned Mesedahl had attended a party on the evening of April 1 and returned home in the early morning hours the following day. Family members reportedly confirmed she was at home at 2:30 p.m. But by 4:30 p.m., they noticed she was no longer in her room.

A person described as an acquaintance of the victim reportedly told police she was staying at her grandparents' home at 32nd Street and Bryant Avenue North, and that Mesedahl arrived there around 3 a.m. That residence is a short distance from where the body was discovered. 

An autopsy performed showed the body had two abrasions on either side of the neck and that hemorrhaging was present in the neck tissues - signs the medical examiner claimed were consistent 'with strangulation that would have resulted in unconsciousness but not death."

There were also reportedly five lacerations on her forehead around the area of the right eye. The complaint states those lacerations "penetrated her skull and obliterated her right eye."

Other lacerations and abrasions were found as well.

Vaginal and rectal swabs taken from the victim and sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in 1983 were reportedly confirmed to have contained semen. And in 2013, DNA testing was performed on the swabs. The complaint said the profile matched that of Rea.

Other DNA tests conducted on cuttings from the victim's clothing were also tested.

The complaint said Rea was a suspect in several cases, including one in 1988 in which a prostitute in north Minneapolis was reportedly taken into a vehicle, assaulted with a sharp object and sexually assaulted. A blood sample was allegedly found to match Rea's DNA profile in 1993.

But by then, the case was unable to be prosecuted due to the statute of limitations.

Rea was arrested in 2015 and remains in custody. The complaint said he has denied any knowledge of the murder or the victim.

Credits

Frank Rajkowski

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