Minnesota Bureau of Criminal
Apprehension Cold Case Assistance
The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has been providing cold case assistance to law enforcement agencies throughout Minnesota since 1991. At present date, the BCA is responsible for assisting agencies in the evaluation and continued investigation of unsolved cold cases that have occurred throughout the state’s 87 counties and numerous jurisdictions. The BCA also assists larger cities and agencies within the metro area on cold case investigations.
The BCA contains an experienced Investigations Division, as well as an advanced state of the art Forensic Science Laboratory that performs numerous types of DNA analysis with regards to cold cases; including STR, Y-STR, mtDNA and PCR testing. Since the initial launch of the BCA’s Cold Case Assistance program in 1991, 21 homicide cases have been solved as a result of the ongoing collaboration of various professionals within the cold case team. The BCA continues to work diligently with forensic scientists, prosecutors, victim advocates and local police and sheriffs to ensure that the highest level of integrity and investigation is applied to all cold cases.
Some significant closed cases include:
Marlys Wohlenhaus Death Investigation
On May 8, 1979, Marlys Wohlenhaus was found (by her mother) lying on the floor in a basement hallway at their residence in rural Afton, Minnesota. She had numerous injuries to the head, believed to be caused by an axe or hatchet. Marlys was unconscious when her mother found her and died on May 10, 1979, without regaining consciousness. A reward of $50,000 was offered for the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible. This case was also featured on CBS' 48 Hours and new information was developed which lead to Joseph Ture being indicted. Joseph Ture was found guilty of first-degree homicide on October 14, 1998. Case closed.
Linda Jensen Death Investigation
On February 24, 1992, the nude body of Linda Jensen was found in her bedroom at her rural home in Big Lake, Minnesota. She had been sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed multiple times in the chest with the knife left in her chest. This case revealed the presence of semen and DNA was an issue for successful conclusion. A major news blitz with media and the offering of a $20,000 reward was made. Over 87 DNA samples were collected and on July 5, 2000, the Lab received oral swabs collected from Kent Richard Jones. On July 25, 2000, the Lab issued a report indicating a match between the sperm sample obtained from the body of Linda Jensen and the sample obtained from Jones. On August 17, 2000, a Grand Jury indicted Jones on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Case closed.
Huling Family Homicide
Alice Huling and three of her children-Susan, Patti and Wayne-were murdered in their home on December 15, 1978. One child, Billy, escaped alive. On September 16, 1994, the Stearns County Sheriff's Department requested the BCA Cold Case Unit to assist them in the investigation into the 1978 murder of the Huling family. Stearns County convened a Grand Jury resulting in four first-degree murder indictments against Joseph Ture. A trial took place in February, 2000, and Joseph Ture was convicted of murder in the first degree for Alice, Wayne, Susan and Patti Huling. He was given a life sentence for each victim. Case closed.
Revitalizing Cold Cases
In January, 2001, the BCA began a new approach to the investigation of older homicides. The goal is to identify if there is any new or old physical evidence to be reevaluated. There have been great strides in evidence analysis capabilities in the last ten years. The transition from serology to DNA analysis of biological evidence alone is enough to require the reevaluation of evidence. The evidence value of a single strand of hair has changed dramatically.
A specially trained Forensic Scientist is working with investigators to identify cases where the reevaluation of evidence could possibly produce new results. This forensic evidence review project has resulted in the review of numerous homicides from 1990 and earlier. These projects are very time-consuming and labor intensive, as there are hundreds of cases to review forensically, but many of these older cases have a very high potential of yielding new forensic evidence in the areas of DNA and fingerprints. To date, we have found DNA on four cases and have additional cases being processed in the Forensic Science Laboratory to extract possible DNA from the new evidence identified.