DNA Matching Leads To Mother’s Arrest In 1981 Newborn Death

Fifty-seven-year-old Theresa Bentaas was arrested for a crime she allegedly committed nearly four decades ago.

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Fifty-seven-year-old Theresa Bentaas was arrested for a crime she allegedly committed nearly four decades ago.

In 1981, a newborn baby boy was found dead in a ditch in South Dakota. At the time, DNA testing was not nearly as advanced as it is today and detectives had little to go off of. Years passed and still, there was little information regarding the death of the forgotten little boy. However, the Sioux Falls Police Department never gave up hope of finding justice for the child. Now, 38 years after the crime was committed, a suspect has finally been arrested in the case, according to NBC News.

Detective Michael Webb of Sioux Falls couldn’t let the case go unsolved and decided to pick it up ten years ago, despite the large amount of time that had passed. In 2009 he hoped to reexamine the DNA evidence from the case only to find that any DNA that he could use was destroyed back in 1995. The only option was to exhume the baby’s body and conduct DNA testing on his remains.

After the DNA was obtained it was sent to the University of North Texas Health Science Center to be tested for a possible match. Nothing could be found.

He then turned to GEDMatch.com which is a free resource in which users can upload their genetic testing to find long lost family members online or conduct research on their ancestry. Detective Webb sorted through a plethora of information before eventually finding a match, 57-year-old Theresa Bentaas. DNA testing showed that Bentaas was, in fact, the child’s birth mother.

Detective Webb is ecstatic that the justice process can now begin for the little boy, who would now be 38-years-old.

“It’s still a little crazy when I think about it. We did really put it together in a small period of time, considering we had absolutely nothing to go off of.”

Interestingly enough, Bentaas still lives in Sioux Falls, the place of the crime, even after nearly four decades. She would have been 19-years-old at the time the crime took place. The mother was arrested and now faces charges of murder and manslaughter for her alleged crimes. Bentaas was scheduled to appear in court on Monday for her first hearing in the case.

Detective Webb believes that new technology and advanced DNA testing will greatly aid in the investigation process. These resources are tools that investigators had to do without in the past, making it much more difficult to crack difficult cases such as this one.

“DNA has come a long way and in law enforcement, these genealogy websites are now resourceful tools in our investigation, he said.