N.Y. man's blood taken for tests in 1973 killing

Several give samples for DNA in Bowie case

January 13, 2000|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

As the revived investigation into an unsolved 26-year-old Anne Arundel killing continues, a Syracuse, N.Y., man gave a blood sample this week for genetic testing.

The man, whose identity is being withheld, is among several men whose DNA is being tested in connection with the killing and sexual assault of Bowie teen-ager Donna L. Dustin, who was a month shy of her 18th birthday when bludgeoned to death in 1973. Hunters found her body in an abandoned gravel pit outside Crofton, in an area widely known for illicit beer and drug parties.

Acting on two tips, Anne Arundel County police and prosecutors reopened the case two years ago, hoping that time and new technologies favored them.

The genetic testing commonly used now in police work did not exist in the early 1970s. Also, youths who said nothing 26 years ago because they might have feared repercussions if their parents knew about their drinking and partying are parents themselves now and might be more forthcoming, said David Cordle, chief investigator for the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office.

"The people involved have grown up. They have matured. They are not as worried now about those things," Cordle said recently.

The Syracuse man, questioned by police in 1973 and again last year, fought the genetic testing this month and challenged an Onondaga County judge's order to provide a blood sample.

But a New York appellate judge upheld the order, and the sample was drawn Tuesday, said James Hopkins, the man's attorney. None of the men whose blood was tested have been charged and investigators are continuing to question people who attended a party in Bowie that Dustin went to in the early hours of Nov. 17, 1973.

Exactly what results of DNA testing would indicate is unclear, as investigators believe that more than one person was involved in the crime. Results, expected in about six weeks, could either include the Syracuse man as a possible suspect, be inconclusive, or rule out a link between him and the slaying. Investigators would not say whether they are looking for an accomplice in the killing, in a sexual attack, or in dumping the body afterward.

"It's a shot in the dark," said Hopkins, who suspects Maryland investigators are wasting efforts with DNA testing of his client.

While her parents were at Disney World, Dustin went on a date Nov. 16, 1973. After dropping her date off, she was seen at the Bowie party talking to two men, one now living in Syracuse and the other a convicted sex offender now living in the Orlando, Fla., area, according to investigators and court documents in New York. They suspect Dustin left the party with the two men.

Investigators said witnesses told them Dustin, a 1973 graduate of Bowie High School, knew the Florida man because he used to hang out around Somerset Elementary School, which she attended as a child. The New York man told detectives that he and two other people smoked marijuana with Dustin two weeks before the party, investigators said.

Investigators said a witness told them that when the Florida man returned to the party, he said he had been out with Dustin. They said they learned recently he appeared disheveled at work that morning, wearing the same clothes from the previous night and had briers stuck on his clothes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Cordle at 410-222-1740, Ext. 3063.

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