S.C. man accused of fatally beating, stabbing, strangling teen mother in 1988
05/02/2023 12:29 pm PDT
THREE RIVERS, Mich. (TCD) -- Police arrested a 53-year-old South Carolina man this week in connection with the December 1988 death of a 19-year-old Michigan woman.
According to a news release from the Three Rivers Police Department, Cathy Swartz suffered "numerous stab wounds, a vicious beating, and strangulation" inside her apartment while her 9-month-old daughter was in the next room. Investigators believe Swartz tried to fight off the attacker before her death.
The Michigan State Police assisted with the investigation and reportedly obtained fingerprints and blood from the scene. Police said officials also located a footprint believed to belong to the suspect. Despite thousands of interviews and collected fingerprints and footprints, investigators did not find a match at the time, and the case went cold.
In the 2000s, police said officials entered the DNA profile into the Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS. More than two decades later, in 2022, the Three Rivers Police Department worked alongside the Michigan State Police and utilized forensic genetic genealogy to "narrow the suspect pool to a single family." Police said they also received assistance from Cold Case Project students at Western Michigan University.
Investigators reportedly "interviewed, fingerprinted, and DNA tested the family members until the suspect was identified as Robert Waters."
Police traveled to South Carolina to interview the suspect and arrested Waters on probable cause. He was booked into the Beaufort County Detention Center without bond.
According to The Associated Press, the St. Joseph County Prosecuting Attorney charged Waters with open murder, and he waived extradition to Michigan. At the time of the killing, Waters reportedly lived in Michigan.
In a statement, Three Rivers Police Chief Scott Boling said, "While nothing can replace the loss of Cathy Swartz, and the impact this senseless tragedy has had, we hope the identification and arrest of a suspect will bring some long-awaited closure to her family and friends."
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