Genetic testing ordered in killing

DNA could link man to beating death of girl, 17, in 1973

January 05, 2000|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A Syracuse, N. Y., man questioned 26 years ago about the 1973 killing near Odenton of a teen-age girl was ordered yesterday to submit to genetic testing, as Anne Arundel County authorities try to link his DNA with genetic material from the crime.

Anne Arundel investigators, acting on a tip, have spent nearly two years re-examining the beating death on Nov. 17, 1973, of Donna Lee Dustin, 17, renewing her parents' hopes of finding out what happened to her.

The nude body of the Bowie girl, who had been sexually assaulted, was found by hunters in an abandoned quarry.

Onondaga County, N. Y., Judge Joseph Fahey found a basis for the testing, but delayed the date one week to give the lawyer for the 46-year-old man time to appeal.

"In my view, they are approaching this backwards," said defense lawyer James Hopkins, who argued against the testing in part because his client has not been charged. He said he has not decided whether to appeal.

DNA testing, which did not exist when Donna was killed, would compare genetic code patterns of the man's blood with swabs from the teen-ager's body. Results could provide a likely match, be inconclusive or rule him out as the killer. Similar tests are being conducted on a Florida man. Investigators suspect that more than one person might have been involved in the crime.

The judge's order came less than a week after what would have been Donna's 44th birthday. Her parents, Delores and Allen Dustin, who live in the home where they raised their children, say they are trying to balance their hopes against fears that they will be let down and never learn of the events surrounding their daughter's death.

"I've thought now, where are her babies? Where are my son's children's cousins? Where are the times that we'd sit down and talk the way mothers and daughters do, like friends?" Delores Dustin said.

She described Donna as a cheerful, fun-loving girl who kept her bedroom messy and her new red Chevrolet Malibu neat. She had low but passing grades at Bowie High School until her senior year, when she made the honor roll and graduated in 1973.

A clerical worker for the Ironworkers International Union in Washington, she was preparing for business school to boost her earning power when she was killed about two miles from home.

Her parents were in Orlando, Fla., visiting Mrs. Dustin's father and taking their son, then 13, to Disney World when police told them that Donna, who did not have enough time off from work to join them on the trip, had been killed.

An affidavit seeking the blood sample from the Syracuse man says Donna had a date that night, dropped the young man at his home so that she could continue partying, then went to a party attended by the two men being investigated where there was a lot of drinking.

How Donna knew the men is unclear, though she might have partied with one or both of them two weeks earlier, according to the affidavit.

One of the men from the party showed up at work the next day looking disheveled and wearing what appeared to be the same clothes from the previous day, co-workers told authorities. The clothes "had what appeared to be dark stains on them as well as briers and stickers stuck on him. His shoes appeared to be dirty also," the affidavit says.

He had shown an interest in Donna during the summer, it says, but during initial questioning by police he said he did not know her.

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