DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - The Douglas County sheriff announced an arrest in a homicide from 36 years ago that was featured on the TV show 'Unsolved Mysteries.' Michael Jefferson, 64, is now charged with murder in the death of Roger Dean, 51, in 1985. The suspect was identified using DNA and genetic genealogy, according to Sheriff Tony Spurlock.
An intruder reportedly entered Dean's home in the early morning on Nov. 21, 1985. When Roger tried to run from the house, the intruder shot him five times. Then in 1990, Dean's widow received a threatening letter from someone claiming to be his killer. The writer demanded $100,000 from her and threatened to kill her daughter, Tammy, if she didn't hand over the money.
Spurlock was at the scene at the time and was the lead detective on the case. He told the TV show he believed several items found at the house were red herrings, planted to give the impression that Dean had been blindfolded and bound.
"We believe that Roger hired an individual to come over to basically kidnap him, take him to his bank, withdraw $30,000 from their account, and then obviously drop Roger off someplace so Roger could report a robbery and he would have that $30,000 to himself," Spurlock said in an interview for the series.
Spurlock said it's "very satisfying" to know that DNA evidence collected early in the investigation and preserved for three decades was used to identify the suspect.
District Attorney John Kellner called it an "incredible story."
"...being able to extract DNA, and then compare it across, you know, different DNA databases that we have access to throughout the country, and arrive at where we are today, that's the incredible story," Kellner said during a news conference on Friday.
"And frankly, it's something we're seeing more and more in the state of Colorado, because of local law enforcement's dedication to this type of investigation," Kellner said.
Kellner urged anyone who knew the suspect in the 1980s, or had information about the case to contact authorities through the tip line at dcsheriff.net.
Jefferson was arrested in Los Angeles and has been extradited to Colorado to face prosecution. He has been charged with murder, kidnapping and other counts. He is being held without bail.
If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
The next hearing is Wednesday.
for more features.