MT MT - Linda & Clifford Bernhardt, both 24, Yellowstone County, Nov 1973

Discussion in 'Cold Cases' started by cybervampira, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. cybervampira

    cybervampira Well-Known Member

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    Suspect named in 1973 killings after genealogy analysis | Daily Mail Online

    Investigators solved a double slaying that occurred more than 45 years ago after using a public genealogy database to match DNA from the crime scene with the genetic profile of the now-deceased suspect, a Montana sheriff said Monday.

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    Linda and Clifford Bernhardt, both 24, were found dead in their Billings-area home in November 1973 in a case that would stymie investigators for more than four decades.

    It was Linda’s mother who discovered her slain daughter and son-in-law in a gruesome scene at their home.

    Clifford was found face-down in a pool of blood in the master bedroom, and Linda in another bedroom.

    Now the decades old case appears to be the latest cold case to have been solved by using a genealogy database which is marketed to the public as a way of understanding their heritage and tracking down lost relatives. Police are now accessing the DNA data to track down crime suspects.

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    The database led investigators to Cecil Stan Caldwell, a longtime city of Billings employee who was once a co-worker of Linda Bernhardt, Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said. They believe that he is behind the brutal murders of the couple.
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    The case had remained cold until 2004, when DNA was discovered on evidence gathered at the crime scene. Over the course of the 45-year investigation, law enforcement eliminated 80 people as possible suspects, through DNA testing.


    Yellowstone County Sheriff announces closure in Linda and Clifford Bernhardt cold case
     
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  2. Trident

    Trident Well-Known Member

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    This is fascinating to see the "old" cases brought to life and solved through DNA and ancestry sites. I'll bet there are many murderers out there shaking in their boots after getting away with it for all these years.
     
  3. j_in_c

    j_in_c Well-Known Member

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    I am also fascinated (and frightened) by how many of these brutal crimes were one-off crimes (at least as best we can tell) and the perpetrators never tangled with LE again - Steven Downs (from ME, connected to murder in Alaska), Gary Hartman in WA, Joseph Holt in CA, etc. There have certainly been others that have turned out to be connected to violent repeat offenders, but for some reason I am haunted by these folks who committed an atrocious crime, but then went back to a seemingly normal existence with their families. I know it is unfair to demand anything of those families as they are also victims, but I am so curious to know if they were ever suspicious?? It also seems to upend "they had to have done this before/again" theory. In any event, I am so glad to see some level of justice here for the victims.
     
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  4. PastTense

    PastTense Well-Known Member

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    While there was some closure for the victims' survivors there was no justice--as the guy is dead.

    Can they get DNA from long buried corpses? It sounds like they should have done that instead of rely on exclusion as there might be someone in the genealogy tree they missed--like an illegitimate child.
     
  5. PastTense

    PastTense Well-Known Member

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    From Linda's sister:
    Thanks to Yellowstone County Cold Case Unit for solving couple's murder
     
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  6. Betty P

    Betty P Well-Known Member

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    It would be interesting if someone could compile data on these cold cases to analyze different factors about the killers during original investigations. In this case, it sounds like the investigators were very thorough, but for some reason the killer never became a suspect or was never prosecuted.

    How many cold case killers discovered through DNA testing initially passed polygraph exams?
    How many of these killers were ruled out as suspects at the time due to alibis? What kind of alibis did they offer to convince LE and how much follow up was done to verify the alibi?
    How many of these killers were never on LE radar and why?
    Where did the killers live in proximity to the murders?

    Just some ideas for generic questions that a review of case files might help LE to narrow down their list of suspects, etc.
     
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  7. jaejae

    jaejae Well-Known Member

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  8. jaejae

    jaejae Well-Known Member

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    Here is an article that mentions the program Mindhunter but there is also an interesting part about this case where the offender was identified as a deceased man through the use of investigative genetic genealogy:

    “We felt like it was someone the victim knew, maybe someone who worked with her, and someone who had access to their brand new home,” said Cooper. “We suggested that the offender might have been a contractor or sub-contractor on building the home.”

    Parabon identified two brothers based on new DNA, one of which was living and one was dead.

    “They got DNA off the living brother and interviewed the deceased brother’s wife to confirm that the living brother was not the offender, and were able to identify the offender as Cecil Stan Caldwell,” said Jackson. “They found out through employment records that Cecil and Linda (the victim) had overlapped in working at a warehouse in the community, so he was someone she knew.”

    COLD CASE FOUNDATION: We talked to the Mindhunter guys who help crack the toughest cold cases — Hunt A Killer
     
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