Thirty years after the brutal rape and murder of Kristina Wesselman, DNA evidence might have finally brought her killer to justice.
It’s a murder that’s haunted investigators since July 21, 1985, the day the teen’s partially nude body was discovered in a field in Glen Ellyn, Ill. The Sun Times Media Wire reports the 15-year-old was last seen walking along a well-traveled path. At some point, she was accosted and forcibly taken away. Police said Wesselman was then brutally raped and stabbed at least eight times by her attacker.
Although many years passed since Kristina’s untimely death, the DNA evidence collected from the crime scene remains a crucial aspect of the case. In 1985, the use of DNA-based evidence collection was in its infancy. Today, it’s an indispensable tool used to link violent offenders to their crimes. Authorities believed gathering and preservation of such evidence would eventually lead to a break in the Wesselman case.
That breakthrough eventially came, but perhaps not in the way law enforcement officials anticipated.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) September 21, 2015
Michael R. Jones of Champaign, Illinois, pled guilty in July to the charge of felony aggravated domestic battery. A 2002 Illinois law requires that anyone convicted of a felony to submit a DNA sample. When the 62-year-old man did this, he unknowingly brought a cold case back to life. Investigators with the DuPage County sheriff’s office were notified of the match on September 10. Michael was arrested in his home on Sunday.
According to CBS News, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin discussed the weekend arrest at a press conference held on Monday. “Although it’s taken 30 years,” said Berlin, “we are now on our way to getting the full measure of justice that this case demands.”
When questioned about Kristina Wesselman and his possible connection, Berlin said that Jones emphatically denied any knowledge of the victim.
“He was a shown a picture of Wesselman and said, ‘As God is my witness, I’ve never seen her before.'”
Michael is a repeat offender who was paroled during the summer Kristina Wesselman was killed. Jones was released from jail two years prior to Kristina Wesselman’s murder. He served just seven years of a potential twenty-year sentence for rape. If convicted in the Wesselman case, Jones would likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
— Kurt Gessler (@kurtgessler) September 21, 2015
Wesselman’s mother Sandy moved to Colorado in the years since her daughter’s death. Detectives flew there to inform her of the arrest. When asked how she felt, Sandy said she was “thrilled”, calling it the fulfillment of “a 30-year-old dream”.
Though a person of interest was arrested, the Wesselman case is considered “currently active”. Anyone with information about the case is strongly encouraged to contact the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office at (630) 407-2400. You may also text an anonymous tip to 247637, but please include the word “sheriff” in the message.
Image Credit: DuPage County Sheriff’s Office