By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Police and the FBI  have made an arrest in a 27-year-old murder case.

Fifty-six-year-old Donald Jenkins was arrested in South St. Paul Tuesday.

Belinda Thompson was just 20 years old and had just moved here from Chicago when she was stabbed to death in her apartment. Investigators say it was new DNA testing on old evidence that lead them to Jenkins.

In 1991, Thompson was living with her sister Jackie at an apartment in Minneapolis. It was exactly 27 years ago this Wednesday when she was found stabbed to death.

Her sister and aunt spoke to us in 1991, asking that their faces not be shown fearing the killer would come after them.

Her sister told us then, “I don’t understand why someone would want to do this.”

“We are at a loss for words,” her aunt added. “We don’t know what could have happened. We have no idea.”

Donald Jenkins Jr. (credit: Hennepin County)

There was no sign of forced entry, leading investigators to believe Thompson knew her murderer. Police say Jenkins, who knew Thompson’s, boyfriend was an early suspect, but police never had enough evidence.

“We lacked the technology in 1991 to lock him in as a suspect,” Minneapolis Police spokesperson John Elder said. “There was a lot of circumstantial evidence that lead us to believe that person was, in fact, our suspect.”

A year ago, police and the FBI reopened the investigation, testing the old evidence.

“We had sent a number of items back into the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for additional testing,” Elder said. “It was through that testing over the last few months, this, in fact, did provide conclusive evidence.”

In 1993, two years after Thompson’s murder, Jenkins was charged and convicted of repeatedly raping a 9-year-old girl who was a family member.

He was sentenced to more than five years in prison in that case

Jenkins is being held at the Hennepin County Jail. Sources tell us he could be charged as soon as tomorrow in Thompson’s 1991 murder.

Jill Sanborn, the special agent in charge of the Minneapolis FBI said in a statement, “We owed it to Belinda and her family to never give up on finding her killer.”

Esme Murphy