Thrown away cigarette helps solve murder case of a KELOLAND woman


This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
An earlier version of this story stated Golden State Killer investigators submitted evidence to Parabon NanoLabs. 

Washington state authorities say a thrown away cigarette helped them solve a murder case of a KELOLAND woman that is a quarter of a century old. This week police in the town of Vancouver, Washington police arrested Richard Knapp for raping and killing South Dakota native, Audrey Hoellein Frasier.

Officers discovered the 26-year-old’s body while doing a welfare check on her apartment in 1994.

25-years later– police say DNA from that crime scene matched fresh DNA police collected while doing surveillance on Knapp.

“Surveillance was then conducted on Mr. Knapp who was local to the area. After several months of surveilling this individual, 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 it to the original source DNA from the crime scene. And we’re informed that that was a match at that time,” Detective Dustin Goudschaal with the Vancouver Police Department said. 

Knapp has been charged with first degree murder. He made his first court appearance yesterday. 

Investigators used the same DNA technique that led to the arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer. Both investigations used genetic genealogy.  Vancouver detectives contacted Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs and sent DNA evidence to Parabon to develop a genetic composite of a suspect and create a possible family tree. Parabon then ran that information through a public DNA database called “gedmatch.” 

Much of that data comes from geneology sites. Participants have to give specific permission to upload their DNA information to gedmatch.

Marty Hoellein, Audrey’s brother, says his sister was a kind person and a loving mother to her 5-year-old son. He said if he could ask Knapp one question, he would ask him why his sister was targeted. Marty says he hopes some closure can finally come in the case and justice can be served for his sister. 

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