Police Solve 51-Year-Old Cold Case Murder Using Infogroup Data
Saturday, November 2, 2019 6:43:00 PM
- A detective used the directories to help identify a 60-year-old woman's killer. -
A single consumer record in Infogroup's Polk City Directories was the tipping point that helped South Dakota police identify the killer in a cold case murder.
Rapid City Police Detective Wayne Keefe used the directories to cross-reference case information in the 1968 slaying of Gwen Miller, a 60-year-old pharmacist.
"I made a great deal of use of the Polk Directories throughout this whole case just locating people," Keefe told SBPD Radio during an interview in June. "The nice part of it is you can go back to those books, and you can see where people were living in any particular time, what they were doing, and where they were working."
On February 29, 1968, Miller failed to show up to work. Police found someone had broken into her home. Autopsy results revealed she was strangled to death and sexually assaulted.
While police were able to pull DNA evidence from the scene, they were unable to find a match. Then, in 1972, the Black Hills flood washed away any hope of finding new forensic evidence to help identify the killer. The flood, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, killed 238 people.
Using the directories, Keefe learned about Eugene Field, a man with a history of domestic violence. Field died of cancer in 2009.
"I didn't immediately, when I looked at all of the information, realize that I had hit the motherlode," Keefe said. "There was, I believe, two pages worth of documentation on him on the spreadsheet I created."
Keefe learned Field lived a half-mile from Miller's house. He also learned Field also had rented a room next door of the victim's house.
"I felt it as a major piece of information that I didn't have before," Keefe said.
Field worked at the Rapid City Airport, a place Miller frequented during her travels. Keefe then located Field's brother who agreed to a DNA test. Field's brother was a partial DNA match, eliminating him and his father as murder suspects. Ultimately, this allowed police to positively identify Eugene Field as the killer.
"It's incredible South Dakota police were able to use the directories to solve a cold case murder," said Mike Snyder, general manager of Polk City Directories. "We've helped communities with valuable information since 1870."