Dead Man’s Old Cigarette Butt ID’s Him as Suspect Behind 27-Year-Old Cold Case Murder
Police have identified a suspect in an almost 27-year-old cold case after DNA found on a discarded cigarette butt linked a known criminal, who died a few years ago, to a mysterious murder.
In a press release shared on Facebook over the weekend, the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office of Washington named Douglas Keith Krohne as the suspected killer of Patricia Barnes. The office explained that the case, which long lay unsolved, was re-opened for examination in 2018.
Barnes was shot twice in the head and dumped on the side of a road in the mid-'90s. The 61-year-old's body was discovered Aug. 25, 1995. Initial attempts to determine a suspect were unsuccessful.
According to The Daily Mail, detectives previously thought her murderer might have been serial killer Robert Lee Yates.
However, modern-day detectives were able to take the case a step further thanks to advances in technology.
Mike Grant, the office's lead detective, said that an old cigarette butt was the "linchpin" in the case. He explained that it was discovered at the same place as Barnes' body, according to FOX 13 Seattle.
"The evidence on the body could mean one of two [or] three different things, but when you have a cigarette butt with the DNA and the DNA on her body and on items around her body, it was conclusive to me that we had the right guy," Grant said.
The official press release detailed the process of linking Krohne's DNA to the cigarette.
Krohne, who would have been 33 years old at the time of Barnes' murder, passed away in 2016. Samples taken from the cigarette were eventually compared to DNA that remained from his autopsy in Arizona.
Although the autopsy was conducted in Arizona, Krohne had addresses in Washington at the time of Barnes' death. He also had a criminal record in the area and was convicted of both 1st degree robbery and 2nd degree kidnapping between 1984 and 1994.
Grant credited the "successful conclusion" of the case to the detectives who were on the scene in 1995. All of the original detectives have retired over the years, but Grant made it clear that they laid the essential groundwork for future discoveries.
"The success of modern investigative methods can only happen when built upon a thorough and professional foundation of good police work," he said.
Grant also revealed that Barnes' family was both "shocked" and "very grateful" to learn that a suspect had been identified all these years later.
You can read the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office's full press release on the matter below: