By Shannon Childs
June 7 was an exciting day for Sgt. David Brewer of the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office. A 46-year-old cold case he has been working on since 2009 had a significant breakthrough. The body of the victim, Loretta M. Jones, was exhumed and examined by the state crime lab for DNA evidence.
When Sgt. Brewer started on the Jones case in 2009, he was unable to locate any kind of evidence or case file. “Back in the day it was not uncommon for law enforcement to take cases home with them,” Brewer explained with some frustration. “However, evidence should not have been lost that way. It should have been kept in the evidence room. I’ve been to the courthouse searching several times and still haven’t found anything.”
The one thing Sgt. Brewer was able to locate was the original medical examiner’s report from the murder. The report confirmed that Jones had been raped, strangled, stabbed 17 times and that her throat had been slit. Armed with this report, testimony from Jones’ daughter, Heidi Jones-Asay, and some old newspaper clippings, Sgt. Brewer commenced his journey to seek justice for Jones.
Since then, Sgt. Brewer has been able to piece together a new case and come up with a solid timeline of events through several witnesses and other evidence to identify a suspect in the crime.
Jones-Asay, who was four-years-old at the time of the murder, has given testimony that she clearly remembers and identified a man being at her home the evening of the murder. According to Sgt. Brewer, this man admitted to knowing Jones for about a year before the murder and dating her for a time during that year. Sgt. Brewer confirmed this person was originally held for the murder in 1970, but was released after a preliminary hearing for lack of “hard” evidence.
“I trusted the court from back then and threw the original suspect out when I started my investigation,” reported Sgt. Brewer. Without the court transcript from the preliminary hearing or any other evidence, Brewer trudged on with the investigation.
Interestingly enough, “The same name kept coming up from witness after witness,” said Sgt. Brewer. “The suspect we have now is the same one we had back then.”
The lack of “hard” evidence that was the reason for the man’s release in 1970 is not the circumstance today. The potential DNA evidence that was harvested by exhuming the victim’s body is just the final piece of the puzzle for this case as Sgt. Brewer’s detective work has brought to light a great deal of new evidence.
Since the exhumation, Sgt. Brewer confirmed that even more witnesses have come forward with testimony and at least two of the new leads he received are very good. “We are so close to closing this case,” he exclaimed.
ETV 10 News will continue to follow this case. Check back often for new details as they are brought to light.