Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Justice for Poplar Bluff After 14 Years

Poplar Bluff Cold Case
By: CJ Cassidy KFVS 12TV
Sep 5,2006

POPLAR BLUFF, MO --With a little help from technology, a murder suspect now prepares to face a jury; 14 years after the crime took place.

Laura Wynn's murder attracted a lot of attention when it happened back in 1992, because of the gruesome nature of her death.

Then, 13 years after her death, police tracked down the man they believe sexually assaulted and killed her, all thanks to a DNA match.

Next week, that suspect, 40-year old Samuel Freeman heads to court for a jury trial.

"The crime occurred on May 7th, 1992," Asst. Polar Bluff Police Chief Gary Pride remembers. That crime, was the brutal sexual assault and strangulation of 31-year old Laura Wynn.

Hours later her mother and landlord would find her partially nude body in her apartment.

At the time, police pieced together how her killer got in.

"She came home. When she entered her apartment door an intruder followed her in," Pride says.

Thirteen years later investigators would put a face to that intruder.

"We sent specific items back to the lab to be retested for DNA with technology that exists today, and that's when we got our match," Pride says.

Police say that match, using DNA taken from the crime scene, points to Samuel Freeman, now forty years old.

A Supply Sgt. with the Missouri National Guard, he's been behind bars since his arrest almost a year ago, awaiting his trial.

"Both of them had frequented the bar she had left from both been there that night," Chief Danny Whiteley explains.

Like investigators who hope to close the book on Wynn's murder, her aunt Carol Helton also has a book she keeps close.

That, is a collection of memories from Laura Wynn's life and death.

When Helton spoke with Heartland News last year, she said she hoped to leaf through these pages someday, without being overcome by raw emotions.

"It would be nice if we could have some closure because it's been so long, and we can just never forget. not knowing where her murderer was," Helton says.

Wynn's mother passed away five years after her daughter was killed, so Helton says it will be especially hard on her to go through the trial by herself.

Meanwhile defense attorneys Stephen Walsh and Dan Moore say their client was a victim of circumstance.

They say they're "cautiously optimistic the jury will find their client not guilty."

Jury selection is set to start Tuesday, and the trial will begin soon afterwards.

The members of that jury will be chosen from Ripley County.



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