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Florida police remedy 35-year-old homicide chilly case with advances in DNA know-how

After 28-year-old Denise Marie Stafford was murdered in 1985 in Sarasota, Florida, the case went chilly for many years regardless of investigators’ greatest efforts at discovering her killer. 

Now, due to developments in DNA know-how, the Sarasota Police Division introduced Wednesday that they linked Joseph Magaletti, a convicted killer who died in jail in 2015, to the crime via DNA that was discovered on Stafford’s pants. 

“Everybody issues, or nobody issues,” Jeff Birdwell, who’s assigned to the Sarasota Police Division’s Legal Investigations Division, mentioned at a press convention Wednesday, citing creator Michael Connelly. “Really, that’s the motto for us, is that no matter how previous these instances are, or regardless if the one that did it’s alive, incarcerated, or useless, the solutions are within the books, and if we put forth the hassle and apply as we speak’s science, we’ve received an opportunity to make a distinction.”


The Sarasota Police Deparment said Wednesday that they linked Joseph Magaletti's DNA to pants that Denise Marie Stafford was wearing when she was murdered in 1985. 

The Sarasota Police Deparment mentioned Wednesday that they linked Joseph Magaletti’s DNA to pants that Denise Marie Stafford was sporting when she was murdered in 1985.  (Sarasota Police Division)

Birdwell took one other have a look at the case in March 2020, sending a number of items of proof to the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement and different companies for testing. 

Final month, the Florida Division of Regulation Enforcement informed Birdwell that DNA taken from the pants Stafford was sporting have been a match for Magaletti, who was an individual of curiosity within the investigation many years in the past however was by no means named a suspect. 

“That is years of labor by not solely myself however sworn detectives and fellow civilians on the Sarasota Police Division who’ve a ardour to shut these instances,” Birdwell mentioned Wednesday. “Due to science and developments in DNA testing and know-how, all chilly instances have an opportunity. We’re not giving up on any case and this case being solved, 35 years later, is a testomony to that.”

Birdwell was convicted of homicide in one other case in 1999 and Birdwell mentioned that he’s presently investigating his potential connection to a different chilly case within the space. 


Dorla Knipper, Stafford’s mom, thanked the Sarasota Police Division Wednesday for bringing her and her household some closure. 

“He’s not going to hurt anybody else,” Knipper mentioned at Wednesday’s press convention. “From the start, I didn’t wish to see another mom undergo what our household has. The police division has accomplished [a] fabulous job.”


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