ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — New DNA tests helped lead to murder charges against a convicted burglar in the cold-case killing of an 81-year-old woman three decades ago in St. Paul, prosecutors said Thursday.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office on Thursday charged Michael Anthony Withers, 58, with two counts of second-degree murder in the Feb. 1, 1987, death of Lillian Kuller.
Kuller was found dead with a pillow over her head in her ransacked apartment in St. Paul’s Macalester Groveland neighborhood. Investigators were unable to identify a suspect at that time.
The break came Monday when DNA tests results from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension came back showing the Y-chromosome found beneath Kuller’s fingernails matched Withers, Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/2nwDzDA ) reported.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell praised investigators who kept digging.
“In St. Paul, we don’t forget the victims of violent crimes, and we never will,” Axtell told reporters.
Withers is serving a prison sentence for burglary and was scheduled to be released in October, Choi said.
Kuller’s grandson, Mark Kuller, said the charges were a “great relief to myself and my whole family. This is a sad day for me but it’s so great, too.”
He said he believed someone eventually would be held accountable for the killing of his grandmother, whom he described as a frail woman with emphysema who “probably weighed 90 pounds.”
“I had good faith in the (police) department because I think they hadn’t given up on it,” he said.
Withers is due in court on the murder charges March 24. Online court records do not list a defense attorney who could comment for him.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org