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Man arrested in 42-year-old cold case using new DNA technology

Advanced DNA technology helped solve a murder case from more than 40 years ago.

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Paul Nuttal, a 64-year-old living in Las Vegas, was arrested for the 1980 murder and sexual assault of Sandra DiFelice. The victim was 25 years old at the time of her murder on December 26 of that year.

The Las Vegas Police Department said in a: pronunciation that new evidence was submitted in February 2021 in the case for additional DNA testing.

Nuttal was taken into custody last week after being charged with public murder with use of a daily weapon, assault with use of a deadly weapon and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon.

at a news conferenceLieutenant Jason Johansson said new DNA technology could match Nuttal’s DNA with DNA found under the victim’s fingertips.

Authorities noted that Nuttal was originally considered a person of interest in the murder, but he was acquitted on the bill that he knew DiFelice’s roommate, explaining why his fingerprints were found at the crime scene. Because of this, the police had no clue and no conclusion, leaving the four-decade-long case cold.

DiFelice’s case isn’t the first this year with such a breakthrough.

In May, police in Wisconsin solve a 13-year-old murder case of a baby by sending DNA from the crime scene to a genealogy website, which listed a large number of family members and provided the police with a pool to start a new investigation.

It’s unclear what new technology was used in the case of solving DiFelice’s murder, or if it’s just a general advancement in sample size.

“Every law enforcement department across the country has unresolved cases that could be solved by recent advances in DNA technology. Today, investigators understanding the evidence a DNA profile can provide can identify a suspect in ways previously only seen on television, ” National Institute of Justice explained in a report. “Evidence invisible to the naked eye may hold the key to solving a home invasion, assault or murder. The saliva on the stamp of a stalker’s threatening letter, the sweat on a rapist’s mask or the skin cells on the ligature of a a strangled child can hold the key to solving a crime.”

Nuttal is currently being held in the Clark County Detention Center.

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