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Police Name Arrested Suspect In 1980 Stabbing

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Minneapolis Police say they’ve made an arrest in a rape and murder that took place in the city more than 30 years ago.

Sgt. Bill Palmer said 57-year-old Robert William Skogstad was arrested last week in Kansas in connection with 22-year-old Mary Cathryn Steinhart’s stabbing death.

She was killed inside her Minneapolis apartment on the 3200 block of Girard Avenue South on Nov. 25, 1980.

She died from stab wounds, and police said they found a butcher’s knife at the scene. Police said she had also been raped. Her face had been covered with a pillow. Officers observed more than a dozen sharp force injuries to her face alone.

Police say there was no forced entry. Skogstad was a caretaker of the building before the murder.

DNA evidence was collected at the scene and investigators say expanding the DNA database to include suspects from other states lead to the arrest.

Minneapolis Police Capt. Amelia Huffman said new DNA technology helped crack the case.

“In this case, particularly with it being it so old, the nature of the physical evidence is really key,” Huffman said. “In this particular case, we have multiple sources of DNA profile from the suspect, including from beneath the victim’s fingernails, which is really critical evidence, because boy, that’s tough to explain away.”

The investigation into Steinhart’s killing went cold 30 years ago, Minneapolis Police Lt. Robert Zimmerman said.

“At the scene they collected the sheets, they collected blood evidence. They did a lot considering the standards of 1980,” Zimmerman said. “It just wasn’t useful 30 years ago.”

Police said the man wasn’t a suspect at the time of Steinhart’s killing.

After Steinhart’s murder, Skogstad moved to California, and that’s where, in 1988, he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct and burglary. While a custodian at the complex, he entered a woman’s apartment, raped her and covered her face, again, with a pillow. Upon a criminal conviction, Skogstad was entered into the National Sex Offender Registry Database.

Lab scientists at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension ran the DNA profile from the evidence collected at Steinhart’s murder with profiles already in the database. That’s when they got a match — Skogstad.

Skogstad is being held in the Johnson County, Kansas Jail on suspicion of second-degree intentional homicide, awaiting extradition to Hennepin County where his case will be tried. Minneapolis Police officers arrested him at his home in Edgerton, Kansas, just southwest of Kansas City.

Palmer announced the new break in the case at a 9 a.m. news conference on Wednesday.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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