Nurse’s Killer Finally Identified Decades Later

Nurse's Killer Finally Identified Decades Later

( – When someone is murdered, it’s a race against time for authorities to collect evidence and nail down a suspect. Despite their best efforts, they sometimes fail to solve the crime in a timely manner. The case goes cold, and the file associated with it is set aside. Special teams often revive the case years later, when newer technology becomes available, in an attempt to solve it. That’s exactly what recently led authorities to track down a man who murdered a nurse who died nearly 37 years ago.

On October 27, 1986, 29-year-old Teresa Lee Scalf was at her home in Lakeland, Florida, alone, when she was attacked and “brutally murdered.” While collecting evidence, detectives found blood not belonging to Scalf. They entered the sample into the Combined DNA Index System, which failed to identify a match.

Law enforcement agents canvassed the area and spoke to neighbors. One person emerged as a suspect: Donald Douglas. Douglas, who was 33 at the time, lived behind Scalf, but had no criminal history or any DNA samples on file. Despite their best efforts, police had no choice but to let the case go cold.

A press release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that in 2022, detectives caught a break in the case. Collaborating with Othram, Inc., a firm specializing in forensic genetic genealogy, they honed in on a few of Douglas’ closest relatives by analyzing existing DNA already within the system.

Othram then took the same data and compared it with a sample voluntarily provided by his son. It matched, confirming that Douglas had indeed been responsible for Scalf’s murder.

Unfortunately, the victory in the case was bittersweet. Douglas died 15 years ago, at the age of 54, long before justice could be served. The victim’s mother, on the other hand, was happy to have the answers she needed. At a press conference, she said she “lived to see this done.”

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