A man has been charged in a cold case murder after investigators matched his DNA to cigarette butts found at an Oklahoma rest stop where a man was stabbed to death 35 years ago.
Earl Wilson, 55, was charged with first degree murder on Monday over the 1985 stabbing death of Paul Aikman.
The victim’s body was found dumped at a rest stop on the Turner Turnpike – a toll road that connects the state’s two largest cities, Tulsa and Oklahoma City – in the September of 1985.
At the time, investigators from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation collected cigarette butts and latent fingerprints found at the crime scene.
They managed to develop a DNA profile from one of the cigarette butts but the case eventually went cold when investigators couldn’t find a match.
Criminalists at the bureau’s forensic science center informed investigators last year that a potential DNA hit had been obtained and matched that of Wilson.
Wilson, who has a lengthy criminal history, has been in an Oklahoma prison since 2016 on unrelated sexual battery charges.
The criminalists had been searching the national DNA database, CODIS, when they discovered the match.
They say they matched the latent fingerprint impression taken from the scrime scene to Wilson.
‘Advances in DNA technology are allowing authorities to take another look at these difficult cases,’ Attorney General Hunter said as he announced the murder charges.
‘Just because cases go cold doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t be held responsible, even after three decades.’
Ricky Adams, the director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said: ‘For 35 years, Paul Aikman’s family has ached not knowing who was responsible for his murder.
‘Thirty-five years have passed, but we have not forgotten about Paul. Thanks to science and determined police work by OSBI agents and our cold case unit, we are pleased to announce that the suspect in Paul’s murder has been identified.
‘I would like to give thanks Attorney General Hunter and his staff for taking this case, filing a murder charge and giving a voice to Paul and his family.’
Wilson is currently serving a five year sentence for sexual battery.
He faces life in prison if convicted of Aikman’s murder.