How DuPage police solved the 44-year-old murder of Pamela Maurer
Forty-four years ago this week, 16-year-old Pamela Maurer left a friend's house to buy a Coke at a nearby McDonald's.
It was a short walk from their neighborhood on the south side of Woodridge, less than three-quarters of a mile.
But she never returned home. The next day, her body was found alongside College Road in Lisle. She had been strangled.
And now, authorities say they know who did it, thanks to advances in forensic science and genealogy.
At a news conference Monday, DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said Pamela's killer has been identified as Bruce Lindahl of Aurora, who grew up in the Downers Grove, Lisle and Woodridge areas.
Lindahl died in April 1981 while murdering Charles Huber, 18, of Naperville. Lindahl stabbed Huber 28 times and accidentally stabbed himself in an artery in the process.
Berlin said Lindahl also is suspected in the 1980 disappearance and death of an Aurora woman who was set to testify against him in a rape trial, the disappearance of a Downers Grove teenager in 1979, and rapes and other crimes against other women.
Berlin said any possible victims are being urged to call the state's attorney's office or Lisle police.
How it was done
Authorities revealed Monday that Pamela had been sexually assaulted. DNA was taken from biological evidence of the rape. It was analyzed at the DuPage County Sheriff's Crime Laboratory in 2001, and a DNA profile of the killer was developed and entered into the nationwide Combined DNA Index System. But no hits were generated.
Last year, Lisle police and the state's attorney had advanced DNA testing and analysis done by Parabon Nanolabs. The analysis created a "Snapshot" prediction for traits such as the killer's eye color, hair color, skin color and face shape. It also provided a composite drawing.
They then ran results through an unspecified public genealogy database and built a possible family tree.
When they had narrowed it to Lindahl, they exhumed his body on Nov. 6. They took more DNA samples and compared them to the DNA collected from Pamela's body.
Berlin said the chance that a random person would be a match was 1 in 1.8 quadrillion.
Berlin said Lindahl attended Downers Grove North High School. A DuPage County court record from December 1976, in which he was accused of having two marijuana plants in his Woodridge home, lists his birthplace as St. Charles.
Berlin said Lindahl was arrested June 23, 1980, on charges of aggravated kidnapping, rape and deviant sexual assault. He was accused of kidnapping Debra Colliander at the Northgate Shopping Center in Aurora, taking her to his residence in Aurora, threatening her with a handgun, raping her and taking photographs of her. She escaped, naked, to a nearby home.
Colliander disappeared Oct. 7, 1980, after work at Copley Hospital in Aurora.
A friend of Lindahl's later told police Lindahl told him that if Colliander did not appear in court, "he would get out of it," Berlin said.
The rape case was dismissed in March 1981. Colliander's body was found April 28, 1982, in a farm field in Oswego Township in Kendall County. The cause of death could not be determined, but a coroner ruled it a homicide, Berlin said.
A Chicago Tribune report at the time said Lindahl was working as a small-engine repairs instructor at a vocational school in Kaneville.
By the time Colliander's body was found, Lindahl was dead. Police believe that while he was stabbing Huber to death in an apartment on Ogden Avenue, Lindahl, 28, accidentally struck himself in a femoral artery and bled to death next to his victim.
Afterward, police found "numerous" photos of women at Lindahl's home on Solifsburg Avenue in Aurora. Police are examining those photos to see if they might lead to other victims.
Berlin said Monday they believe Lindahl was involved in the disappearance of Deborah McCall of Downers Grove. The 16-year-old girl, a student at Downers Grove North High School, went missing on Nov. 5, 1979, according to the National Unidentified and Missing Persons System.
According to press reports from 1976, Pamela Maurer, who lived on the 7600 block of Butternut Court, had visited with friends at a house on the 2500 block of Crabtree Lane. She left around 9:45 p.m. Her mother reported her missing at 11 p.m.
The next day, Lisle Township Highway Commissioner Thomas Paterson found her body, according to news reports. He told police he had seen a purse on the roadway and was concerned someone had been hit by a car. A 3-foot section of an automotive rubber hose was found near the body.
"We'll probably never find out why he killed her," Lisle's then-police chief, M.J. Wurth, told a reporter. "But we're going to find him. We have a lot of people to talk to, and there's a lot of people talking."
Classmates and friends from Downers Grove South High School were among those interviewed.
Lindahl was not one of the original suspects, according to Lisle police officer Chris Loudon, the detective working the cold case.
Cindy Evans, now of Lisle, attended Monday's news conference to hear the news for herself. She recalled saying goodbye to Maurer as they left school on separate buses that day.
If she had not been grounded for having gotten poor grades, Evans said she likely would have hung out with Maurer and the others that night.
And it was not unusual for girls to walk alone, she said.
"We all walked around back then. You didn't have those worries," she said. But Maurer was shy, Evans said. "She would never have gotten in (a car) willingly with a stranger," she said.
Evans said she did not recognize Lindahl. She was both surprised and grateful her friend's killer was a stranger.
"We could never imagine one of our friends doing it," she said.
Maurer's name came up several times in newspaper articles throughout the 1970s and 1980s, because she was one of six young women whose murders or suspicious deaths in southern DuPage County from 1972 to 1976 puzzled investigators. It caused police from the then-smaller towns to form the Felony Investigative Assistance Team to share expertise and resources.
Lisle police reopened the case in 1993, hoping advances in forensic science would help them as it had Naperville police, who had just charged a man with one of six cold-case murders of young women in the 1970s and 1980s.
Loudon said Maurer's father and one of her brothers now live in Texas. They were informed of the findings several months ago.
"They showed a lot of relief," Loudon said, He said the father never expected an answer as to who killed Maurer.
"I was glad for Pam. ... I was glad to finally put a face to this monster," Loudon said.