Investigators Solve 1981 Duluth Cold Case
New DNA Technology Cracked The Case
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Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay and forensic scientists with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Monday a direct DNA match to the killer of 17-year-old Carolyn Andrew – the victim of a 1981 assault and murder.
“The excellent evidence collection, processing, retention over the years made this possible,” said Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay at a news conference Monday.
BCA investigators say newly developed DNA technology cracked the 33-year-old case to identify the suspect at Cecil Wayne Oliver, who shot and killed himself in Chicago in 1988 at the age of 30.
Andrew was last seen May 4, 1981 when she left her family’s home in the upper Woodland neighborhood to head to the bowling alley on Calvary Road – just blocks from her home.
She never made it and was found the next day partially submerged in Twin Ponds off Skyline Parkway near Enger Tower with a gunshot wound to the head.
Duluth police would conduct more than 100 interviews and follow up on hundreds of leads over the years with no clear suspect identified – until 2014.
“Investigators believe Cecil Wayne Oliver, who died in 1988 at the age of 30, was involved in the assault and murder of Carolyn Andrew,” said Drew Evans, Assistant Superintendent of BCA.
Forensic scientists with the BCA said the 100 percent match with Oliver was discovered through a partial match with his son who entered the criminal justice system with a sample of his DNA.
“New information that allows us to provide investigative leads where no information was available. This case is a prime example of how new technology brings new opportunity to solve these unsolvable cases,” said Catherin Knutson, Director of the BCA’s Forensic Science Services.
Authorities say Oliver once lived and worked in Duluth, and had contact with Andrew the night before she was found dead.
“She had been at the Cove Bar (now Roper’s Saloon on Tower Avenue) in Superior Wisconsin with her friends.” A man by the name of Cecil at that time attempted very insistently to get her phone number who matches the description of Cecil Oliver,” Evans said.
1981 investigative work could never provide enough evidence to arrest Oliver.
But it was that preserved evidence that would eventually solve a cold case that retired Duluth crime scene investigator Barry Brooks would follow 15 years after retirement.
“I can see it right now, you know, looking down from the bridge at Twin Ponds and seeing Miss Andrew in the water. I see it as vividly today as I did that day,” Brooks said.
The family of Carolyn moved out of Duluth after the death crime.
But Duluth police have been in contact with the family since the beginning – and now to the very end.