Cold Case Arrest Made Thanks to DNA, and a Twist

Investigator pored over old immigration ties to Italy to zero in on suspect
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2022 3:19 PM CDT
Cold Case Arrest Made Thanks to DNA, and a Twist
Stock image. A suspect's genealogical history led to his arrest in Pennsylvania.   (Getty/Megan Brady)

That DNA evidence appears to have cracked a cold case isn't too unusual. But this one required some unique additional sleuthing, reports Lancaster Online. The case in question is the brutal 1975 murder of 19-year-old Lindy Sue Biechler, a married woman who was stabbed inside her apartment in Pennsylvania's Lancaster County. The killer left DNA evidence in the form of semen at the scene, but the sample wasn't good enough to suggest a suspect under modern analysis. It did, however, allow Parabon NanoLabs of Virginia to determine that the killer's ancestry traced back to the small town of Gasperina, Italy, per WGAL.

With that knowledge, Parabon's CeCe Moore then began poring over immigration records and public information about the family trees of county residents. "There were very few people living in Lancaster that were the right age, gender, and had the right family tree," she says, per NBC News. One of them, however, was a man named David Sinopli, now 68, who once lived in Biechler's apartment building. He was never "on our radar," says county District Attorney Heather Adams, but Moore's tip prompted authorities to follow him to an airport earlier this year and obtain a DNA sample from a coffee cup—and it was a match for the 1975 DNA.

Police arrested Sinopoli on Sunday at his Lancaster County home and charged him with criminal homicide. Moore called the approach in this case "novel" because of the genealogical research and said it paid off because of a "specific set of circumstances"—the suspect's ancestors coming from a small town in Italy and settling in a similar locale in Pennsylvania. Without the breakthrough, "I don't think that we ever would have solved it," says Adams. (More cold cases stories.)

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