Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: Mysterious Confession


In November 2006, a jury of eight men and four women found 80-year-old Andrew Lancaster guilty of murdering Lois Petrie.

In December 2006, detectives in San Francisco obtained an arrest warrant for Lancaster, charging him with the 1975 murder of Leah Griffin. The charge came after the San Francisco Police Department Crime Lab matched Lancaster's DNA to a rape kit swab taken from Griffin's body.

In May 2007, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Anita H. Dymant sentenced Lancaster to life in prison.

Sign: SID
Sign: SID

Detective Richard Bengtson gives much of the credit for cracking the case to the Scientific Investigation Division. "SID was incredibly important. If they don't come up with DNA from 30-year-old slides that are stored incorrectly, and then they're not able to come up with DNA off a Styrofoam cup that somebody drank out of, we don't go anywhere with this case."

The Petrie case was the first conviction for the LAPD Cold Case Unit. LAPD officials said they expect many more. During a televised interview, Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell said, "There's an awful lot of people, I think, out in society who believe they have skated on some pretty significant crimes over the years, and DNA technology is now catching up with a lot of those folks."

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