A nearly half-century long “cold case”, solved thanks to DNA found on a cup of coffee. On July 17, 68-year-old David Sinopoli was arrested in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (USA), for the murder of Lindy Sue Biechler, killed with 19 stab wounds in December 1975. The turning point in the crime, which had remained unsolved for 47 years, it came thanks to new genetic testing, which allowed the file to be reopened and ultimately identified the culprit.
The murder of Cindy Sue Biechler
The crime dates back to December 5, 1975, when Lindy Sue Biechler, who was just 19 at the time, was found dead in her home by her uncles around 8:46 p.m. The crime scene, as described by the officers who first arrived on the scene, was horrific: blood everywhere, both inside and outside the house. According to the police reconstruction, Lindy had returned home after being in a grocery store between 18:45 and 19:05: when she was found, the shopping bags were still on the kitchen table. Inside the apartment, there were clear signs of a struggle: the young woman was found lying on her back in a pool of blood, with a knife still sticking out of her throat. The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office determined the cause of death to be severe bleeding from 19 stab wounds to the chest, neck, abdomen and back.
Detectives from the Manor Township Police Department, assisted by the Pennsylvania State Police, have conducted a thorough investigation into the murder and have followed several leads over the years: several people have been charged and then released due to lack of evidence. In 1997, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office identified and presented the most important piece of evidence: the suspect’s DNA contained in traces of semen found on the victim’s panties. The male profile was compared with all those convicted of certain crimes in the Codis system database, but without any confirmation.
The new analyzes and the arrest of Sinopoli
But how did the police get to Davd Sinopoli? The man had never been arrested or investigated in those 47 years, and his name had never appeared in the statements made by the victim’s friends and relatives to investigators. The case was reopened in 2019, when the Cold Case Unit requested the help of Parabon NanoLabs to analyze the DNA found at the crime scene, in order to identify the killer’s genetic characteristics: skin, eyes, hair color and his Italian origin, a factor that raised suspicions about 68 -year-old. The new research has allowed us to go back to Sinopoli: in February 2022, investigators secretly managed to obtain the suspect’s DNA, track him and recover a cup of coffee that was thrown into a trash can at the Philadelphia airport. The computer analysis by Cybergenetics concluded that DNA found on the cup of Sinopoli was the same DNA found in sperm found on the victim’s underwear. A correspondence was also confirmed by some traces of blood found on the girl’s pantyhose.
In a statement, District Attorney Heather Adams thanked all the laboratories that participated in the investigation: “We are grateful for the work done and for the commitment to ensure justice for the victims and their loved ones. It has been an endless search, but we have never forgotten Lindy Sue, it has always been in the minds of those who over the years have continued to work to get to the truth. Sinopoli’s arrest marks the first step in bringing justice for his murder.” The trial will clarify other outstanding points, such as the motive for the crime.