MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A man whose conviction for the 1983 rape and killing of a Minneapolis teenager was made possible by DNA evidence is being sentenced Tuesday.
A Hennepin County judge last month found 64-year-old Darrell Rea guilty of the death of 17-year-old Laurie Mesedahl, whose body was found bludgeoned along railroad tracks in North Minneapolis. Rea has denied the accusations.
Prosecutors said detectives were able to solve Mesedahl’s case because one of Rea’s victims escaped after he stabbed her with an ice pick in the back of the neck in 1988. The woman managed to escape the stranger’s car and ran for help covered in blood.
KSTP-TV reports years passed before investigators were able to match the Rea’s DNA to Mesedahl’s.
Years after the 1988 attack, police obtained a warrant for a person of interest in the case and several other violent crimes over the years, the television station reports. They got samples of Rea’s blood and saliva and compared it to a sample from the 1988 case; it matched Rea’s DNA profile.
However, prosecutors couldn’t charge Rea for that assault because, according to state law, too much time had passed. But with Rea’s DNA on file, Minneapolis police launched a Cold Case Squad in 2013 and began reviewing unsolved cases, including that of Mesedahl’s. Forensic testing found Rea’s blood and semen on Mesedahl, investigators said, and police arrested Rea in 2015. He was convicted for the 1983 murder on May 1.
Two sisters who say Rea lived with their mom and sexually assaulted them when they were minors are planning to be at the sentencing.
Sgt. Chris Karakostas, who worked on the Mesedahl case, said that with Rea, “there are other victims out there that aren’t going to be able to get justice, but they are still part of this investigation.”
Police say they’re convinced Rea is a suspect in other incidents, including that of a still-missing person, but they may not be able to take legal action on some because of the statute of limitations. There is no time limit on murder cases, however.
Information from: KSTP-TV, http://www.kstp.com