A cold case in Vermont from over five decades ago has finally been solved, with the break in the case coming from a carelessly discarded cigarette butt that was left next to the body of the victim and found by police, with DNA testing of the decades-old cigarette butt leading police to the killer.
Such is what was announced recently by police, who used the DNA evidence to solve the murder of Rita Curran. Ms. Curran was murdered in her bedroom in July of 1971, dying by strangulation. She, according to police, resisted fiercely but eventually succumbed to the killer’s attack. The killer was, up until now, unknown, though police caught a break that enabled them to crack the case. The Daily Caller, reported on what finally changed that let the police crack the case and what change, saying:
For decades, the case remained unsolved, but in 2014 police took a key piece of evidence — a cigarette butt — from the scene and sent it off for DNA analysis. While the analysis provided a DNA profile of the smoker, none of the profiles matched those within the police database, the outlet stated. In 2019, detectives compared the profile to those submitted to commercial DNA genetic mapping sites. This led to a breakthrough in the case in August 2022, when the sample identified a possible suspect, Curran’s upstair’s neighbor, William DeRoos, ABC News reported.
ABC News added more details on the suspected killer and what happened on the night that he allegedly killed Ms, Curran and left the cigarette butt by her body. In that outlet’s words:
The suspect, identified as William DeRoos, who was 31 at the time, had left his apartment that night for “a cool down walk.” After he returned he told his wife of two weeks not to say that he had been out.
Since the investigation was renewed in 2019, detectives re-interviewed DeRoos’ former wife, and she told them he had left their apartment for a brief period within a window of time when Curran’s roommates were out of her Burlington apartment.
“We’re all confident that William DeRoos is responsible for the aggravated murder of Rita Curran, but because he died in a hotel room of a drug overdose he will not be held accountable for his actions, but this case will be closed,” Burlington Police Detective Lt. James Trieb, the commander of the Detective Services Bureau, said during a Tuesday morning news conference.
ABC News then added that DeRoos died of a drug overdose in San Francisco in 1986. Before his death and after the murder, he had traveled to Thailand to become a monk. He then returned to the US and died.
It also quotes Ms. Curran’s brother, Tom, as saying “I don’t think so much about the guy who did this as I do about Rita, my parents and what they went through. I pray to Rita and I pray to my parents.”
So the case has finally been solved and the killer discovered, though decades to late to hold the killer to account and ensure that he didn’t kill or harm the innocent again.
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