For more than three decades, Teresa Lee Scalf’s family has looked for the killer’s identity.
Investigators claim they have solved the 1986 murder of Scalf thanks to new DNA research, giving his family answers and closure.
According to a press release issued by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, Donald Douglas, 33 at the time, killed Scalf. The agency reported that Douglas passed away from natural causes in 2008.
On October 27, 1986, in her Lakeland, Florida, home, 29-year-old Scalf was the victim of a “sexually motivated” attack that resulted in her death. She was “severely cut” and “had significant defensive wounds on her hands,” as reported by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
At a press conference on Monday, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd stated of the suspect, “He aggressively stabbed her and cut her,” adding that Scalf was nearly beheaded.
The sheriff’s office said in 1986 that evidence retrieved from the crime scene included blood that did not belong to Scalf. DNA profiles from criminals who have been apprehended, unidentified crime scene evidence, and missing persons from across the country are all stored in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
The sheriff’s office said that Douglas did not have a record because of this.
According to the sheriff’s office, Douglas’s body was cremated following his death, so investigators never collected his DNA to compare against the database.
Blood was sent to Othram, a private lab in Texas that specialises in forensic genetic genealogy, for analysis in 2022, the sheriff’s office stated.
The sheriff’s office reported that because to Othram’s “analysis of the suspect’s blood,” they were able to focus the search for the perpetrator down to more distant relatives.
Brian Bruchey, a spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, told AWN on Tuesday that investigators traced their way back to Lakeland and the Douglas family through a family tree.
The sheriff’s office stated that “detectives eventually narrowed their search down to close relatives of Donald Douglas” who resided directly behind Ms. Scalf at the time of her murder.
According to the sheriff’s office, the blood collected at the crime site matched Douglas when detectives obtained a DNA sample from Douglas’s kid and analysed it genetically.
“The DNA profile indicated a 100% confidence of a parent/child biological relationship when compared to Douglas’ son’s DNA profile,” the office said.
And while the “who” question has been solved, the “why” of Scalf’s murder 37 years ago has not.
The one who loves the most
Pam Scalf, one of Teresa’s sisters, stated that her sister was a nurse and a mother to an 8-year-old boy.
At a press conference on Monday, Judd and the Scalf family confirmed that Betty Scalf had discovered her daughter’s body on the day she was murdered.
Betty Scalf called the police for assistance in 1986 when she saw a magnet with the local police department’s number on the refrigerator at her daughter’s house, according to Pam Scalf.
The Scalf family has thanked law enforcement officials profusely for their decades-long dedication to solving the murder of their loved one. According to Pam Scalf, Teresa has inspired her entire family to pursue careers in the healthcare industry.
“Teresa was the most wonderful, loving person,” stated Teresa’s friend and colleague Pam Scalf. It wasn’t fair to her. This was not fair to our loved ones.
Just wanted to let you know that I’m 84 years old. Betty Scalf commented, “I think that’s why I lived to see this done.”