A Pennsylvania man was charged with murdering a 19-year-old woman 46 years ago after investigators obtained her DNA from a coffee cup at an airport earlier this year, officials said Monday.
David Sinopoli, 68, was not considered a suspect in the murder of Lindy Sue Beakler in 1975 until genetic lineage Researcher Sess Moore told reporters on Monday that the researcher used DNA from the crime scene to determine whether the potential killer’s ancestors were from a town in southern Italy.
After scouring centuries-old records and developing Sinopolis as a person of interest, Moore said, he passed the information to Lancaster County officials.
“Quite honestly, without it I don’t think we would have ever solved it,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams told a news conference.
Adams said Sinopoli was arrested from his home on Sunday and charged with felony murder. He was being held without bail in the Lancaster County Jail.
On the night of December 5, 1975, Bechler’s aunt and uncle found her body in their apartment, in what Adams called a “horrific sight”. She said there was blood on the inside and outside of the front door, on the carpet and one wall.
Adams said a knife had come out of Bechler’s neck, and investigators later determined that he had been stabbed 19 times.
Adams said at the time dozens of people had been acquitted in the murder case and that the case had gone cold.
Adams said DNA drawn from semen in her underwear had been submitted to the National Law Enforcement Database in 1997, but the profiles did not match.
In 2020, Moore and his company, Parabon NanoLabs, began what he described as a “novel” strategy for officials to identify people of interest after traditional genealogy research provided only distant matches, she said. .
Moore determined that the person linked to the DNA had roots in Gasperina, a village in the Calabria region, she said.
“There were very few people living in Lancaster who were the right age, gender, and the right family tree,” she said.
Sinopoli was never “on our radar,” Adams said. “None of the suggestions ever suggested him.”
Investigators surveyed her for months, and on February 11 she caught a coffee cup she had thrown in the trash at Philadelphia International Airport. Adams said the DNA found in the cup matched the DNA found in Beakler’s underwear.
He said officials confirmed the finding after analyzing two spots of blood found on Bechler’s pantyhose.
A possible motive for the murder remained unclear. Adams said only that it appears that Sinopoli lived in 1974 in the same apartment complex as Biclerc.
It was not immediately clear whether Sinapoli had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.