DNA solves 18-year-old Utah murder

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:38 PM

The Associated Press

MIDWAY-- An 18-year-old murder mystery in the death of a girl has been solved with the help of a DNA lab and the arrest of a suspect, officials said.

The bloodied and broken body of 17-year-old Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch was found Dec. 6, 1995, along the Provo River near Midway.

Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner flew out to Sarasota County, Fla., and helped arrest Joseph Michael Simpson on Tuesday.

The 46-year-old Simpson, formerly of Clearfield, was being held on suspicion of aggravated murder.

He waived extradition and will be brought to Utah within weeks to stand trial. Bonner expects charges will be filed soon in Utah's 4th District Court.

In 1995, authorities said Beslanowitch was originally from Spokane, Wash., and had been in Utah for only five months before her murder.

It wasn't immediately clear how the suspect and victim might have known each other. Chief Wasatch County Deputy Jared Rigby says Simpson was not a boyfriend.

Bonner, the lead investigator on the case originally, said at a news conference Thursday that he was thrilled at the arrest, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune.

"It's a case that's haunted me for almost my whole career," he said.

Bonner added that Beslanowitch's mother and step-father were relieved at the news.

After years of dead-end leads, DNA technology improved and last January, investigators finally got a match on Simpson from evidence at the scene.

To corroborate the evidence, Bonner and another detective flew to Florida on Aug. 25, and were able to get a new DNA sample from him from a discarded cigarette without his knowledge. The paper said a test proved another match.

On Tuesday morning, Bonner, Wasatch County detectives and Florida investigators arrested him without incident.

The sheriff said Simpson wouldn't talk to investigators about the case.

The paper said Simpson was charged with second-degree felony murder in 1987 and pleaded guilty two months later, according to Utah court documents.

He was paroled from the Utah State Prison in April 1995, and was free at the time of Beslanowitch's slaying, according to Utah Board of Pardons and Parole records.

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