Thanks to modern forensics, a suspect was finally arrested in connection to a California cold case — just one day shy of the tragedy’s 40th anniversary.
On Friday, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of Phillip Lee Wilson, 71, in connection with the 1980 rape and murder of 20-year-old Robin Brooks.
COLD CASE ARREST: Phillip Lee Wilson, 71, has been arrested for the murder of Robin Brooks on April 24, 1980. pic.twitter.com/EGaXkUBZLA
— Sacramento Sheriff (@sacsheriff) April 24, 2020
On April 24, 1980, a concerned coworker found Brooks’ bound-up body in her apartment after she did not show up for her shift at a local doughnut shop. She had suffered from several stab wounds, according to The Sacramento Bee.
The 20-year-old had also been sexually assaulted by the assailant, but without a lead on a potential suspect and the lack of investigative genetic genealogy, the case went cold and has remained unsolved until now.
“I have been involved in this investigation for 16 years,” retired SCSD Sgt. Micki Links said during a media conference Friday. “I’ve dreamed of this day to actually be able to stand up here and say we have arrested the man responsible for this crime.”
Links told People that she does not believe Brooks and Wilson knew each other before she was murdered, which leads her to think the girl may have been stalked.
“We have no information that they were ever seen together, or knew each other,” she said. “She was 20 years old and he was 31 at the time.”
Though Wilson was not a suspect when the murder took place, forensic DNA that was discovered at the scene finally pointed to him as the alleged killer many years later.
“That first ray of hope came in 2004 when forensic DNA evidence was developed 25 years after the crime had been committed,” Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said during the news conference.
“That ray of hope came when our crime lab was able to develop a DNA profile from the person that left DNA behind in the rape-murder of Robin Brooks.”
Police asked the public for help in solving the crime in 2016, and over the past few years, investigators used forensic DNA to conduct the genetic genealogy process.
Once Links found out that authorities had identified the man who was allegedly responsible for the grisly murder, she was ecstatic that the case could finally be put to rest.
“I literally hung up the phone, and I jumped up and down, and I was clapping my hands and I ran out of the office to tell everybody,” Links told KCRA.
Wilson was arrested Thursday and booked at the Sacramento County Jail, where he is being held without bail. He is facing one felony count of murder.
Shortly after Wilson’s arrest, Brooks’ sister, Maria Arrick, released a statement.
“Robin’s death was a devastating loss to our family, a heartbreaking pain of which we never recovered,” Arrick said, according to Law and Crime.
On Friday, she thanked Links and everybody involved for their hard work, which may bring a small piece of closure that’s 40 years overdue.
“Today is the 40th anniversary of my sister, Robin Brooks’ Cold Case. It was finally solved by Cold Case Detective Michaela Links!” Arrick wrote in a Facebook post. “I want to thank all the many other people involved that helped solve Robin’s cold case. Justice prevailed. May Robin finally ‘Rest In Peace!'”
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