VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) – An Oregon man has been arrested in connection to a murder that occurred in Clark County 25 years ago, according to the Vancouver Police Department.
According to authorities, officers on July 17, 1994, were dispatched to a home in the 8000 block of East Fourth Plain Boulevard and discovered Audrey Hoellein (Frasier) dead inside.
Hoellein, who was 26 years old at the time, was also the mother of a little boy.
Investigators said Hoellein was raped and murdered, and law enforcement at the time collected physical evidence, including DNA, but no matching information was found in the Combined DNA Index System. Law enforcement listed the DNA samples as unknown person: "Individual A". CODIS is the national database that contains DNA profiles of individuals convicted of certain crimes.
In June 2018, Vancouver detectives contacted Parabon NanoLabs and started the process to submit original crime scene DNA. The police department says the first Phenotype/Snapshot report was delivered in August 2018, and the Genealogy report was provided in October 2018.
Law enforcement agencies across the country use the technology to advance investigations when traditional DNA methods fail to produce a match, the police department says.
In the investigation into Hoellein’s death, Parabon submitted a genetic data profile created from the unknown crime scene DNA sample to a public genetic genealogy database for comparison in hopes of finding people who share significant amounts of DNA with the unknown subject.
The Vancouver Police Department then used the information on leads produced through the Parabon process to continue their investigation. They say abandoned DNA was obtained from one of the leads and that sample was sent to the Washington State Crime Lab for testing, revealing that the DNA from the abandoned DNA matched the DNA located at the original crime scene for “Individual A”.
Vancouver Police conducted a traffic stop on Richard E. Knapp, 57, of Fairview, on Sunday, April 28.
Knapp was interviewed, arrested, and booked into the Multnomah County Jail, and later extradited to Clark County on a charge of murder in the first degree. Knapp is expected to make his first appearance in Clark County Court on May 1.
Hoellein's brother, Marty, said she was a loving and genuine person who would do anything for anyone.
"The love of her life was her son," Marty said. "She was just the best mom, the nicest, caringest person you could imagine."
The Hoellein family provided a statement on Tuesday regarding Knapp’s arrest:
“This crime not only took away a sister from her two brothers, it left a mother and father without a daughter, and a young child without a mother. Since then the family has grown with nephews that will never meet their aunt, and a grandchild that can only see grandma in pictures, only knowing her from shared memories.
We as a family are grateful for the many detectives that have worked on this case. But, we are extremely grateful for detectives Dustin Goudschaal and Neil Martin. The loss of a loved one is something very tragic for a family. When this loss was at the hands of someone else, the grief is impossible to bare. Many losses have closure at the funeral; in this case the funeral wasn’t enough. Our family was left with so many unknowns, the biggest of these being who did this awful crime. As this case is starting to unfold after almost 25 years, the wound is being re-opened, and our family is experiencing the pain all over again. But, Thanks to detectives Dustin Goudschaal and Neil Martin our family may finally have the opportunity to find closure to our biggest unknown. We hope that the use of this technology can be used to bring closure to more families across the nation”.
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