Chilly case homicide of Teresa Lee Scalf in Lakeland, Florida, solved after 37 years

For nearly 4 a long time, the distraught household of Teresa Lee Scalf have been tortured by the concept that her killer was strolling free amongst them.

The twenty seventh of October, 1986, was presupposed to be simply one other regular Monday night time.

The younger mom had gotten dwelling from an extended shift on the native hospital, able to calm down, make some dinner, watch tv and fall asleep.

She wanted to go to mattress early in order that she could be brilliant and recent for work the following morning.

However Teresa by no means confirmed up for her shift.

The 29-year-old was brutally murdered and mutilated in her Lakeland, Florida, dwelling, together with her devastated mom Betty discovering her butchered physique.

The bloody crime scene was mentioned to be horrific, with the killer “aggressively” stabbing and chopping Teresa in what police have described as a “sexually motivated assault”.

Police mentioned her throat had been slit and he or she had defensive wounds on her fingers.

“He minimize her head nearly all the best way off,” Sheriff Judd mentioned, in accordance with WFLA.

Her eight-year-old son Craig was having a sleepover at his grandmother’s home on the night time of his mom’s homicide.

When Teresa didn’t cease by her mum’s home to examine in on him on her technique to work within the morning, Betty turned involved.

She used a bank card to enter the younger mum’s duplex, which is the place she discovered her daughter brutally murdered.

“Very candy and really properly favored”

In an interview with the Herald-Tribune again in 2003, Betty mentioned that Teresa had an enormous coronary heart and had all the time been the kind of particular person to make mates with the underdogs.

“She was a do-gooder. The individuals who had no mates, she would befriend,” she informed the newspaper.

“She was all the time rescuing stray animals and stray individuals,” Teresa’s sister Lynne added.

“She was a deeply caring particular person. She was very candy and really, very well-liked.”

Betty mentioned she was upset with the preliminary police investigation.

“I used to be annoyed with the best way it was dealt with,” she defined.

“I didn’t suppose on the time that they spent sufficient time at her home.”

Again in 2003, she mentioned that regardless of her earlier frustrations with the investigation, she was hopeful that her daughter’s killer could be discovered.

“I’m hoping that someday in my lifetime they’ll discover out who the killer is.” she mentioned.

Now, 20 years later, her want has lastly come true.

New know-how

On the time, there have been no apparent suspects, however detectives did discover two blood samples on the crime scene.

Whereas one among them belonged to Teresa, the opposite belonged to an unknown particular person.

Nonetheless. there was no DNA family tree or testing accessible on the time, and with out the correct know-how, there was merely no technique to determine her killer.

Within the 2000s, police had been capable of run the blood pattern by way of the system, nonetheless there was no match.

All of the proof was submitted to the Mixed DNA Index System, which is a “consortium of native, state, and nationwide databases of DNA profiles from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scene proof, and lacking individuals,” police mentioned in an announcement.

Nonetheless, for greater than 30 years, the “pattern remained unmatched to any recognized people.”

In 2022, the sheriff’s workplace partnered with Othram, Inc., a personal lab that specialises in forensic genetic family tree in chilly case investigations.

The corporate analysed the blood pattern and had been capable of “slim the scope” of the investigation to take a look at “distant family of the nonetheless unknown suspect.”

These family had been interviewed, and shortly, detectives lastly had a suspect: Donald Douglas.

“Creepy neighbour”

Donald lived instantly behind Teresa on the time of her homicide and had even been interviewed by detectives in 1986 as a part of a routine canvass of the neighbourhood.

However in accordance with police, there was “no proof to hyperlink him to the homicide”.

Donald had no recognized legal historical past from earlier than or after the homicide, so consequently, his DNA was by no means put right into a legislation enforcement database.

As a part of their 2022 investigation, detectives obtained a DNA pattern from one among Donald’s sons.

Unbelievably, one of many genetic exams confirmed that the blood discovered on the scene of Teresa’s homicide was Donald’s, “as a result of the DNA profile indicated a 100% confidence of a mum or dad/youngster organic relationship” based mostly on a comparability to the son’s DNA profile.

“We’re extraordinarily grateful for the help from Othram, Inc., who supplied us with a number of investigative leads and finally the lacking genetic proof wanted to deliver this investigation to a profitable conclusion,” Sheriff Grady Judd mentioned in an announcement.

“With their assist, our detectives had been capable of negotiate by way of a household tree that led to the identification of Teresa Scalf’s killer.

“I need to thank Mr. Douglas’ son, who was cooperative and prepared to help our detectives. Because of Othram, Inc., our detectives onerous work, and Mr. Douglas’ co-operation, we had been capable of assist deliver long-awaited closure to Theresa Scalf’s devastated household.”

Donald Douglas died of ‘pure causes’ in 2008 at 54, with out ever spending a day in jail for his crime.

He was 33 when he killed Teresa.

Detectives mentioned his physique was cremated, which added additional difficulties in getting DNA proof from the suspect.

Sheriff Judd mentioned he was recognized due to genealogical DNA from 1949, when the killer’s third cousin had a toddler from an “illicit affair”.

He added that Donald’s son by no means imagined that his father might homicide anybody and was shocked to study that his DNA matched the blood pattern discovered on the scene.

Closure after 37 years

Police believed that Donald turned enraged when Teresa turned down his romantic advances.

“We predict he had some curiosity in her sexually and clearly she didn’t have any,” Sheriff Judd mentioned.

“She by no means had a relationship with him. So we consider that he was offended and upset as a result of she wouldn’t have a relationship with him.”

Betty mentioned Teresa would by no means have opened the door to a stranger and added that she all the time used the latch on her door.

She speculated that Donald was possible ready inside her duplex for his second to strike.

“Every time he acquired in, he acquired in … most likely by way of the glass sliding doorways within the again,” she informed LkldNow.

“However he was inside that home ready for her when she acquired dwelling, that a lot I do know.”

In response to her sister Lynne, Teresa had informed her a few “creepy neighbour” who was “stalker-ish” however by no means described him, in accordance with WFLA.

“If you’re getting a creepy vibe, don’t simply inform your sisters this creepy neighbour is doing bizarre issues,” she mentioned.

“Give an outline. If we had had that description the sheriff simply confirmed you, that may have narrowed it proper down.

“Massive man, scruffy, 30-ish? Consider what that may have achieved to the potential pool of suspects.”

The case is now thought of closed.

Teresa’s mom Betty is now 84 years previous and mentioned she was grateful to have lived lengthy sufficient to lastly get some closure.

“I’m 84 years previous, I lived to see this achieved,” she mentioned throughout a information convention.

“I feel that’s why I lived so lengthy.”

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