February 14, 2019 06:16 PM
An Isanti man has been charged in connection to the 1993 murder of Jeanie Ann Childs.
According to court records, 52-year-old Jerry Westrom has been charged with one count of second-degree murder.
"We are quite confident that he is the person or we would not have charged it," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Childs' body was found in the bedroom of her apartment on the 21st floor of the Horn Towers, located at 3121 Pillsbury Avenue South in South Minneapolis, on June 13, 1993, after property management was alerted that water was coming into the hallway from the apartment. A criminal complaint states that when supervisors entered Childs' apartment, they found the shower running and her body on the floor.
Police at the time said she had been stabbed repeatedly, and that they believed a suspect entered her apartment late that afternoon.
According to the criminal complaint, officers learned she was dating a man who was out of the state at the time, but later found out Childs was a prostitute and would use the apartment for meetings with customers.
The complaint says investigators consulted with a genealogist in 2018 who had worked with law enforcement on another cold case. With additional genealogical searching, a DNA sample from the scene led to two suspects, one being Westrom. Records checks on Westrom also showed past contacts with law enforcement related to prostitution, the complaint says.
In January 2019, officers began surveillance on Westrom with the intent of obtaining a DNA sample. The complaint says investigators tracked him to a hockey game, where he was seen wiping his mouth with a napkin and throwing it in the trash. Investigators were able to recover the napkin, and thanks to advancements in DNA testing, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension determined Westrom's DNA from the napkin was consistent with the DNA samples recovered from the crime scene.
"For people who say, 'Isn't this awful, we're invading privacy.' We use DNA all of the time to prove that a person didn't do it," Freeman said. "Because if we don't have a match, we don't have a case. What this has done is make identification much better."
According to the complaint, Westrom denied having been in Childs' apartment, and also denied recognizing her or having sex with any women in Minneapolis in 1993. He also told investigators, according to the complaint, that he didn't know why his DNA would have been at the crime scene.
Updated: February 14, 2019 06:16 PM
Created: February 14, 2019 01:04 PM
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