Cold case with South Dakota ties solved in Vancouver

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DNA evidence has led to another cold case arrest. 

This time the crime happened in 1994 and the victim had South Dakota ties. Audrey Hoellein Frasier was born in Aberdeen and still has several family members in the state. 

For 25 years, Hoellein Frasier’s family has waited and hoped for answers.

“The father is getting older in age, and he told me he thought he was going to go to his grave without any resolution as to what happened to his daughter,” Vancouver Police Department Detective Dustin Goudschaal said.

In July of 1994, Audrey was 26-years-old. She had a five-year-old son and was separated from her husband. That evening, a neighbor called police asking them to check on Audrey at her apartment on 4th Plain Blvd.

Police found her raped and murdered.

“At the time of her murder, physical evidence including DNA was collected, but no matching information was in codus, the national database that contains DNA profiles of individuals convicted of certain crimes,” Vancouver Police Department Assistant Chief Mike Lester said. 

The case went cold, but in 2018 Vancouver detectives decided to try something new. They submitted the crime scene DNA to a company that used genetic genealogy to build a family tree.

The company came back with a possible name. For months, detectives watched 57-year-old Richard Knapp, of Fairview.

“We were able to obtain abandoned DNA from that person in the form of a cigarette butt. This product was then sent to the Washington State lab to compare to the original source DNA from the crime scene,” Goudschaal said. 

It was a match. On Sunday, police arrested Knapp during a traffic stop. Detectives hope the next step will be justice for Audrey and her family.

“We’re happy that we can provide them with maybe not closure but at least the next step in the progression of this event. It is an open investigation. We’re still working to make contact with witnesses and other investigative leads, so our information dissemination is quite limited at this time. But it is an open and active case,” Goudschaal said.

KELOLAND’s Sarah McDonald is sitting down with family members to talk about the arrest. She’s working on that story for Thursday on KELOLAND News. 

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