MSI Blog

1978 muder case solved with fingerprint scan

By MSI in Crime, murder at September 23rd, 2011 | No comments

33 years ago, 80-year-old widow Arlene Roberts was found murdered in her Renton, WA trailer.

“Roberts’ hands and feet were tied with nylon stockings and there was a gag in her mouth,” Sgt. John Urquhart said. “She was naked from the waist down and a ligature was around her neck, fashioned, from a hair net. The cause of death was asphyxiation caused by strangulation.”

A lack of evidence at the time caused the case to go cold—that is until 2010. The detectives of King County decided to take another looks at an unidentified fingerprint from the scene. After running the print through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, a match was recovered.

Ronald Wayne MacDonald, 50, was arrested Thursday afternoon in Reno, Nevada and charged Roberts’ murder.

“DNA gets all the attention,” said Sheriff Sue Rahr. “But other advances, including fingerprint identification via AFIS, solve crimes as well. It is very gratifying to finally solve the murder of an 80 year-old woman, thanks to AFIS and great detective work.”

Prosecutors have asked MacDonald’s bail be set at $2 million.

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