DNA tests fail to pinpoint killer in unsolved murders

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Extensive DNA testing has failed to identify who murdered two Cape Girardeau women in their homes in 1982, leaving investigators, surviving relatives and even suspects without answers.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol's crime lab says not enough usable material exists in the samples of semen found at the crime scenes to build a complete genetic profile of a killer or killers.

This brings the investigations into the deaths of Margie Call and Mildred Wallace back to their starting points, said Lt. Tracy Lemonds, commander of the city's detective division.

The lack of a match all but removes three men as primary suspects a year after detectives requested that Roger L. McIntyre of Jackson and two unnamed men submit DNA samples. McIntyre was publicly identified in a court hearing.

On Monday, McIntyre learned of the test results from a reporter.

"I've been wondering -- you don't know what a relief this is," he said.

Police say the patrol's crime lab has waiting list of cases. Because the two murders occurred more than 20 years ago, newer cases get priority for lab time.

Call and Wallace, who lived blocks apart in Cape Girardeau, were killed at a time when investigators could use only blood types to eliminate suspects. Call, 57, was strangled in January 1982, and Wallace, 65, was found shot in June. No arrests were ever made.

"I gave blood," McIntyre said. "They took me to St. Francis' emergency room and I gave a statement at that time. ... I told them who I thought it was."

More than 20 years after the murders, detectives came back to McIntyre. But when he declined to voluntarily submit DNA samples, Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle issued an investigative subpoena for the samples.

Matched FBI profile

McIntyre filed a motion March 20 to nullify the subpoena, but Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp ruled against him after detectives testified that he matched an FBI psychological profile of the killer.

The next day, cotton swabs were rubbed inside McIntyre's mouth and more than a dozen hairs were pulled from both his head and pubic area at Swingle's office. The preliminary lab work was done here before the samples were sent in April to the patrol's lab in Jefferson City, said forensic chemist Pam Johnson, interim director of the Southeast Missouri Regional Crime Lab in Cape Girardeau.

Test results from the Call case came back in July, and the Wallace results arrived about two weeks ago. In both cases, crime scene blood matched to the victims but not the three suspects. In addition, the semen samples -- which Johnson described as old and in poor condition -- didn't contain enough genetic markers to build a full DNA profile, which requires at least 13.

The lack of markers also means the samples can't be run through the FBI's CODIS system, a nationwide database of DNA profiles from crimes and convicted felons.

McIntyre was 17 in 1982 and lived near both victims. He joined the military later that spring. He produced paperwork detailing a brief stint in the U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood from May 31 to Oct. 13, 1982.

"When that woman was killed on William Street, I was in boot camp," he said. "You don't get any day passes from boot camp."

'Destroyed my future'

McIntyre says the investigation has ruined his family relationships.

"They destroyed my future in this part of the country," he said. "The damnedest thing about all of this is they already knew all of this. They knew I wasn't a murderer."

Margie Call's son, Gary Call of Licking, Mo., was disappointed to learn police still don't know who killed his mother.

"We'd gotten kind of hopeful that some resolution would be found on this, but it doesn't look like they'll ever find one," he said.

Lemonds said the cases will remain active. "They won't just go up on a shelf and be forgotten about," he said.

But he added that without DNA matches, a confession may the last best hope.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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