NAPERVILLE, Ill. — The suspected serial killer who died while committing a fatal stabbing in Naperville in 1981 has been ruled out as the person responsible for the murder of a 16-year-old Naperville girl in 1972, Police Chief Robert Marshall said.
A DNA check was conducted when Bruce Lindahl’s body was exhumed in connection with the 1976 murder of a teenage girl in Lisle, but it was not a positive match for Julie Ann Hanson, said Marshall, one of the first officers on the scene when Lindahl died while fatally stabbing an 18-year-old man in a Naperville apartment.
Hanson’s murder has gone unsolved since her body was found 47 years ago in a cornfield near 87th Street and Modaff Road. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed 36 times after last being seen leaving her home on her bike, police said.
Lindahl’s murder of Pamela Maurer, of Woodridge, was similar to that of Hanson. The 16-year-old girl was sexually assaulted, strangled and left along College Road near Maple Avenue after she left friends she was visiting in Lisle and went by herself to a McDonald’s to buy a soft drink, Lisle police said.
“(Lindahl) has been eliminated as a suspect in the Julie Hanson case by our detectives,” Marshall said. Officials took “DNA from the Julie Hanson case and compared it with Lindahl, and it was not a match.”
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Marshall said the scene of Lindahl’s death is something he “will forever remember.”
He was a rookie police officer, he said, when he was called to an apartment near Ogden Avenue and Royal St. George Drive where Lindahl had stabbed 18-year-old Charles Huber more than two dozen times with a knife. During the struggle, Lindahl cut the femoral artery in his own leg and bled to death, police said.
The bodies were in the apartment of a woman with whom Lindahl was in a relationship, Marshall said.
“When we get dispatched to calls like that, we’re ready for anything,” he said. “The way it was dispatched was an individual had come home to her apartment and saw there were two bodies laying by her sliding glass doors.
“When I got there, it was clear when I looked at both bodies and checked for vitals on the bodies they were both deceased,” he said.
The crime scene was “perplexing,” and at first police thought a third person had murdered Huber and Lindahl, he said.
“Lindahl was laying practically on top of Huber,” Marshall said. “From what I remember there was a little bit of disarray in the apartment. I think there was a lamp knocked down. Some type of struggle had occurred.”
It was only after autopsy results showed Lindahl had died from a self-inflicted stab wound that they realized he was the killer.
“We put the puzzle pieces together to find in his rage he had stabbed his own femoral artery,” Marshall said.
“All of us in police work, we know we have these images in our brain that never go away, and that’s something we in law enforcement have to deal with — being exposed to traumatic events,” Marshall said of his memory of the case.
Being at the press conference Monday where it was announced that Lindahl was Maurer’s killer gave Marshall an opportunity to reflect on what had happened that night in 1981, he said.
It made him proud to be “in a profession where we never give up on these cases that go unsolved and resolved,” he said.
“Justice is delivered in a variety of ways,” Marshall said. “It was justice because in 1981 Lindahl’s raping and killing rampage stopped due to a self-inflicted stab wound, which is a better outcome for society.”
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Police had kept Maurer’s case open and ended up using genetic genealogy to verify Lindahl was her killer. Investigators took a DNA sample from Maurer’s body and used the genetic traits of her assailant to come up with an image of what he might look like.
Investigators said they built a family tree of people of interest after searching public genealogy databases and were lead to Lindahl as a possible suspect in Maurer’s murder. Lindahl’s body was exhumed late last year and DNA samples collected were found to be a match to those taken from Maurer.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said a sketch produced from the initial DNA sample had an “uncanny resemblance” a high school yearbook photo of Lindahl.
“Today that mystery has finally been solved,” Berlin said Monday at a news conference.
Lindahl had multiple victims, and Berlin said he believes he was a serial killer.
Lindahl may be linked to the 1979 disappearance of Deb McCall who was a Downers Grove North High School student, he said. Police found a photograph of McCall in Lindahl’s Aurora apartment after his death in 1981, Berlin said.
Lindahl is also believed to have killed Deb Colliander, who was last seen leaving work at Copley Hospital in October 1980. Prior to that, Lindahl faced charges in Kane County for kidnapping and sexually assaulting Colliander.
When Colliander disappeared, Lindahl was out on bond and about to stand trial. Charges against him were eventually dismissed following Colliander’s disappearance, Berlin said. Colliander’s body was found in a farm field in Oswego Township in 1982, a year after Lindahl died.
“All of the evidence points to Bruce Lindahl as the person responsible for Deb Colliander’s murder,” Berlin said on Monday.
Officials are investigating whether Lindahl may have been involved in killings and other crimes committed between 1974 and 1981 in the Lisle, Woodridge, Downers Grove and Aurora areas.
(The Naperville Sun is a publication of the Chicago Tribune, which contributed to this report.)
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