Arrest Made in Cold Case 33 Years After Woman's Body Found Beaten and Set On Fire


It’s maddening when something horrible happens to someone and justice cannot be served. When killers get off the hook, it hurts the family and friends of the deceased as well as the community.

Unfortunately, many crimes go unpunished — but thankfully, we have made many advancements with modern technology that have allowed authorities to not only solve modern-day crimes more swiftly but even turn the lens back on cold cases, reassess the evidence and find those responsible.

DNA testing has opened up a world of doors, and samples stored away for years have often shed new light on old cases, thanks to the sheer number of people who have added themselves to the DNA “network.”

That’s especially helpful to the people who have worked diligently on cases that went cold, never quite finding enough evidence or the right kind to catch the culprit.

In the past year or so, Phoenix Police teamed up with the Maricopa County, Arizona, Attorney’s Office to take another look at a stomach-turning case that went unsolved over three decades ago.

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“The detectives originally assigned, worked the case extensively, but the case eventually went cold,” the department said, according to KSAZ-TV.

“Additional work was done to advance the case and in 2019, detectives from the Phoenix Police Department Cold Case Homicide Unit began working with detectives from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.”

On Feb. 21, 1987, Marilyn Johns, a woman in her early 40s, was found in an alley in Phoenix. Over 85 percent of her body was covered in third-degree burns, and she’d been beaten and sexually assaulted, according to a report on the City of Phoenix’s website.

She was taken to a hospital for treatment but was too far gone. Johns died March 5, 1987.

At the time, investigators were unable to name a responsible party, but with the development of DNA testing, a way was made.

Phoenix Police Crime Laboratory scientists helped isolated a suspect by analyzing DNA left at the scene of the crime.

They found a match.

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Now 52, Darron Joseph Miniefield would have been just 20 years old at the time of the crime. He was arrested, charged with first-degree murder and held without bail Tuesday.

According to court records referenced by KTVK-TV, Miniefield was convicted of assault and murder in 1990 and was released 20 years later.

While justice has been a long time coming, if Miniefield is determined to be guilty, the family will finally have some closure.

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