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DNA Leads Police to Murder Suspect in 34-Year-Old Cold Case

A Kentucky cold case unit re-examining a 1980 rape and murder submitted old DNA for testing. The results, they say, pointed to a 71-year-old man.
Jerry Lee WeatherfordLouisville Metro Dept. of Corrections

More than three decades after an elderly widow was found raped and murdered in her Louisville, Kentucky, home, investigators say they've linked the crime to a family friend through old DNA evidence.

Police arrested 71-year-old Jerry Lee Weatherford at a long-term healthcare facility on Monday, charging him with the August 1980 killing of Harriet Hardy, 87, NBC affiliate WAVE 3 reported. Weatherford had been a prime suspect at the time of the murder, but there was not enough evidence to indict him, police said.

But a Louisiville Metro Police cold case unit recently went back through the files, found DNA collected from the crime scene and from Weatherford, and sent it to a lab for testing — methods that were not possible during the original investigation. His DNA was not on any criminal databases because he had no prior record, police said. Now his DNA will be used to check for links to other unsolved crimes.

Jerry Lee WeatherfordLouisville Metro Dept. of Corrections
— Jon Schuppe