DNA Leads to Answers in 2 Decades-Old Slayings

One suspect is arrested; the other died in 1978
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 6, 2019 6:48 PM CDT
DNA Leads to Answers in 2 Decades-Old Slayings
Joe Ryan, left, of Greenville stands with his wife near a photo of his late mother, Alice Haynesworth Ryan, on Monday.   (Ken Ruinard/The Independent-Mail via AP)

More than 30 years after an 80-year-old woman was fatally stabbed in her South Carolina home, authorities say they have arrested her killer. Greenville Police Chief Ken Thomas says more sophisticated DNA testing combined with more than two years of interviews led to the arrest of a registered sex offender from Americus, Georgia, the AP reports. Thomas said at a news conference Monday that 51-year-old Brian Keith Munns is charged with murder, burglary, and armed robbery. Thomas says Alice Haynsworth Ryan was found stabbed to death in her home in 1988 after her daughter brought her home from chemotherapy. The chief says Munns lived within 2 miles of Ryan but did not say why he may have killed her.

In Indiana, police say DNA evidence has been used to identify the killer of a college student in 1972. Terre Haute police chief Shawn Keen said that a DNA sample from a son of Jeffrey Lynn Hand was used to connect him to the slaying of 19-year-old Pamela Milam, a student at Indiana State University, the AP reports. Milam's body was found in the trunk of her car on Sept. 1, 1972. She had been bound and gagged. An autopsy determined she died of strangulation. Keen says Hand, then 23, didn't live in the area but made deliveries for a record company and likely cruised the Indiana State campus when work brought him to the city. Keen says Hand died in 1978 in a shootout with police during an attempted abduction in the Indianapolis area.

(Read more DNA evidence stories.)

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