A Missouri inmate serving a life sentence for killing a man was linked to the cold case killings of four women who vanished more than 30 years ago after DNA evidence connected him to the crimes.
The O’Fallon Police Department in Missouri announced the update Monday, the same day prosecutors charged Gary Muehlberg, 73, with four counts of first-degree murder.
The charges are related to the deaths of Robyn Mihan, Brenda Pruitt, Donna Reitmeyer and Sandra Little, who disappeared from south St. Louis City in 1990 and 1991. The bodies were found in various locations in Lincoln, St. Louis and St. Charles counties, O’Fallon police said on Facebook.
Little's body was found on the side of an interstate in O'Fallon, police said in the statement.
Pruitt, who was 27, was found stuffed into a trash can, Maryland Heights police said in a news release.
O’Fallon Police Detective Sgt. Jodi Weber began looking into the cases in 2008. She spent the next 14 years organizing witness statements, police reports and physical evidence.
Weber sent what she had collected to crime labs to see whether DNA could be located, the police statement said.
Authorities said advancements in scientific technology helped crack the cold case murders. In April, St. Charles County Crime Lab technicians found DNA from a small amount of viable evidence. It was determined that the DNA was that of Muehlberg, who was already serving a life sentence in Potosi Correctional Center for an unrelated murder.
"It may have taken a while, but your family member was not forgotten," St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar said at a news conference Monday.
According to the police statement, Weber traveled to the prison twice and spoke to Muehlberg, who is alleged to have confessed to killing Mihan, Pruitt and Little.
Shortly afterward, Muehlberg wrote a letter to Weber providing information about two additional killings, police said in the statement.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Muehlberg also expressed remorse for the killings, writing that he "must live with my past — the good and bad parts,” adding, “No more running."
Police said Weber went back to the prison to speak with Muehlberg again. In that interview, he confessed to the two killings he mentioned in the letter and provided details about the slayings, police alleged. Weber used the information to identify Reitmeyer as one of the victims. The second victim has not been identified.
Asked about the DNA match, Weber told reporters that learning of it was an "incredible" feeling.
Reitmeyer's daughter, Dawn McIntosh, said at the news conference that she was thrilled to learn about the charges and felt her mother could finally rest.
"Because I don’t think she rested in peace knowing that he was still out there," McIntosh said. "So I’m glad he was caught."
Mihan's mother, Saundra Kuehnle, said her daughter had a smile that could light up a room.
"I had hounded the police and detectives forever, off and on, over the years," Kuehnle said. "A long time to wait, but everything in God’s time."