In 1985, Roger Dean and his wife D.J. suffered a home invasion robbery in the early hours of the morning. The assailant demanded Roger tie up his wife and provide him $30,000 in cash before murdering him. Now more than three decades later, the mystery may be solved thanks to a water bottle on Spirit Airlines.
Murder Mystery Solved On Spirit Airlines Via DNA Sample From Water Bottle
The home invasion occurred in Colorado early in the morning and the assailant was wearing a ski mask. In a scuffle that occurred prior to the murder of Roger, the mask fell off and was left behind.
There was no national DNA database in 1985, but DNA from a hair inside the ski cap was added to a national database in 2003. Although there was no match, investigators used DNA genealogy to locate the parents of the DNA sample and learned they had two sons.
One was Michael Jefferson, now 64 years old, who was in Denver at the time of the murder. According to 9 News:
Law enforcement began to monitor Jefferson, according to the affidavit, and two deputies boarded the same Spirit Airlines flight as him between Los Angeles and New Orleans.
“During the flight, detectives saw Michael drinking from a plastic water bottle,” the affidavit says. “During the flight Michael discarded the water bottle by handing it to a female flight attendant to be place in the trash. Detectives intercepted the disposal and collected the water bottle without Michael knowing.”
The DNA in the water bottle matched the DNA in the ski mask from 1985.
There’s another twist. D.J., the widow, received harassing phone calls in 1990 from someone who knew so many details about the murder of her husband that it had to be the murderer. It was those phone calls that prompted their story to be featured on Unsolved Mysteries, a television program that ran from 1987 to 2010 using re-enactments and interviews to recreate unsolved mysteries.
Those calls were so horrific and repetitive that they were recorded. The voice closely matched that of Jefferson.
The motive for the murder has not been disclosed, but Jefferson is being held without bail and faces a 40-year prison sentence if convicted.
36 years later, an unsolved murder may now be solved. Although facts are still emerging about the case, investigators used DNA evidence from a discarded water bottle on Spirit Airlines to link Jefferson to the murderer.
image: Douglas County Sheriff’s Office