Fairfield Police detectives say they have solved a brutal murder case after more than 30 years.
Priscilla Strole was found dead after a violent beating and sexual assault in her home on Aug. 31, 1983. Her son, Kyle Stracner, found her body in their Buchanan Street home.
Detectives say there was no sign of forced entry into the home.
Investigators collected fingerprints and DNA from the scene and entered them into a database. Leads were developed, but police say no suspect was identified.
In 2012, cold case detectives reopened the case after DNA science had been advanced. Still, there was no match to known criminals in the database.
In rerunning the fingerprints collected at the scene, detectives got a match in 48-year-old Robert Hathaway. Hathaway is said to have been a friend of Stracner’s at the time of the killing. In 1983, police Hathaway had no criminal record, but he was arrested for burglary in 1986 and his prints were uploaded into the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
Cold case investigators matched the fingerprints from the murder scene to the prints uploaded from Hathaway’s burglary arrest, according to police.
Police say detectives interviewed Hathaway about Strole’s killing and collected DNA from him on Feb 11, 2014. Hathaway reportedly told police he had nothing to do with Strole’s murder.
On Feb. 15, officers say Hathaway hanged himself in his home.
Finally, on Feb. 20, investigators say a positive DNA match was made to what was collected at the 1983 scene, leading detectives to believe Hathaway was Strole’s killer.
A short note left behind by Hathaway said he had taken “the coward way out.”
Fairfield Police say after the positive DNA match, they considered the case closed.
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