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Rock-solid evidence leads to arrest in death of Utah teen 17 years ago

Sept. 20, 2013 at 1:09 PM   |   Comments

SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The arrest of a 46-year-old man in Florida ends a two-decade-old mystery of who killed a 17-year-old girl in Utah in 1995, law enforcement officials say.

The case had gone cold because deputies had few clues other than some bloody rocks where the nude body of Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch was found on a bank of the Provo River outside Heber City, The (Salt Lake City) Deseret News reported Thursday.

But those rocks resulted in the arrest of Joseph Michael Simpson, a convicted felon, in Sarasota County, Fla., Tuesday.

Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner, then a deputy, had led the investigation of Beslanowitch's death for two years before it was declared inactive. The case was reopened in 2006, and blood on the rocks was examined for DNA. The rocks were tested again after 2008 with improved forensic technology.

In January, a federal database matched the DNA to Simpson, who had been imprisoned in Utah in the 1980s for murder and now lives in Florida. Other evidence also linked Simpson to the teenager's murder, but a more direct link was needed.

In August, Bonner and another deputy flew to Sarasota and watched as he discarded a smoked cigarette. DNA from the cigarette matched that from the crime scene.

Simpson, who had never been a suspect in Beslanowitch's death, was being held in Florida for investigation of aggravated murder while awating extradition to Utah.

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