Napkin, genealogy site leads to arrest in 1993 murder case

Elias Hubbard
February 19, 2019

As a result of a consistent match from the crime scene, he's been charged with the 1993 stabbing of a 35-year-old woman in a Minneapolis apartment.

Westrom remains jailed in lieu of one million U.S. dollars of bail ahead of a court appearance on Friday.

Police trailed Jerry Westrom to a game in January and when he wiped his mouth and threw away the napkin, it was retrieved as DNA evidence, the Pioneer Press reports. The case went cold until the Federal Bureau of Investigation ran DNA evidence collected from the murder scene through a genealogy website in 2018. That's where investigators confiscated a napkin he had used and tossed in the trash.

Geneology websites gained attention previous year after one was used to arrest a suspect in the decades-long hunt for the so-called Golden State Killer in California. Prosecutors allege former police officer Joseph DeAngelo is responsible for at least a dozen killings and about 50 rapes in the 1970s and '80s.

Westrom appeared in a Minnesota courtroom Friday where his wife, children and 20 other supporters looked on from the gallery.

According to the complaint, a tenant in Childs' Minneapolis apartment building at the time called police after seeing water coming from her apartment.

Several members of Childs' family were at the hearing in Hennepin County District Court. She was found dead in her shower, and the water had been left running.

His attorney Steven Meshbesher attempted to raise doubts about the DNA evidence in court on Friday, noting that Childs worked as a prostitute, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Finger, palm and foot prints were discovered at the scene, investigators said. The paper towel was recovered, sent to a state laboratory, and matched to DNA samples found in Ms Childs's flat.

The samples were later run through the genealogy website.

Westrom's next court date is scheduled for March 13.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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