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Downers Grove

44-year-old cold case murder of Downers Grove South student solved

The 1976 murder of 16-year-old Pamela Maurer has been solved.

During a Jan. 13 press conference, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin named then 23-year-old and now deceased Bruce Lindahl as the man responsible for Maurer’s murder. Lindahl resided at 1023 Solfisburg, Aurora, at the time of the murder.

Maurer’s body was discovered at approximately 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 13, 1976, in the snow on the side of College Road in Lisle. Maurer, a Downers Grove South High School student, had been sexually assaulted and strangled, according to a DuPage County State’s Attorney Office news release.

On the night of Jan. 12, 1976, between 9:30 and 10 p.m., Maurer left a friend’s house and walked to a nearby location to get a soft drink. The next morning, a township road crew discovered her body on the side of the road, the release stated.

An investigation found that Maurer had been sexually assaulted and that her murder occurred within a very short time of leaving her friend’s home. The murder was investigated by the Lisle and Woodridge police departments, including collecting biological evidence from her body. Despite their efforts, the case went cold.

“When she was found, there was a piece of automotive hose near her body,” Berlin said. “Further investigation and analysis indicated that Pam had been raped and that her murder occurred within a very short time of leaving her friend’s house in Woodridge.”

Berlin described the road crew's discovery as “gruesome."

But in 2001, evidence was analyzed at the DuPage County Sheriff’s Crime Laboratory, and a DNA profile of her suspected killer was identified. That profile was entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) but no hits were ever generated, according to the release.

In 2019, additional advanced DNA testing and analysis was conducted on the forensic evidence by Parabon Nanolabs at the request of the Lisle Police Department and the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office.

This testing resulted in the creation of a “snapshot” prediction for traits such as the suspect’s eye color, hair color, skin color and face shape and a composite that provided an approximation of the appearance of the unknown subject, the release stated.

Additional genetic genealogy analysis was conducted through which authorities identified Lindahl as a person of interest. Lindahl was deceased at this time having succumbed to apparent accidental, self-inflicted injuries he sustained in the 1981 stabbing murder of Charles Huber, 18, of Naperville, according to the release.

In November 2019, with the cooperation of the DuPage County Coroner’s Office, Lisle police, the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office and members of the State’s Attorney’s Investigations Division, Lindahl’s body was exhumed and specimens from his remains were collected to obtain possible DNA for comparison to the DNA collected from Maurer’s body in 1976.

Both the DuPage County Sheriff’s Crime Laboratory and DNA Labs International were successful in extracting and profiling DNA from the remains of Lindahl, which confirmed that the DNA evidence recovered from Maurer’s body was consistent with Lindahl’s DNA profile. The chance that a person at random would be included as a contributor is 1 in 1.8 quadrillion individuals, the release stated.

“More than four decades have passed since Pam Maurer was brutally murdered and sexually assaulted,” Berlin said. “During that time however, dozens of law enforcement personnel from multiple jurisdictions have kept her in their hearts and it is because of their diligence, commitment and compassion we are here today.

"I would like to personally thank each and every person who worked on this case the past 44 years for their commitment to justice and the memory of Pam Maurer. I would particularly like to acknowledge and commend the efforts and dedication of the Lisle and Woodridge Police departments, especially Detective Chris Loudon from Lisle, the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office and Crime Laboratory, the DuPage County Coroner’s Office, Parabon, DNA Labs International and investigators from my office."

The case marks the first time in Illinois where use investigative genetic genealogy was used to solve a murder, authorities said.

The work of law enforcement authorities is not complete, however.

“Unfortunately, Pam was not Bruce Lindahl’s only victim,” Berlin said. “As a result of this investigation, Bruce Lindahl’s DNA profile is now being used to investigative unsolved cases that may be solved as a result of the break in the Maurer case.”

Berlin said authorities have evidence possibly connecting Lindahl to crimes against other women between approximately 1974 and the time of his death in April of 1981.

“I would also like to say that as a result of this investigation, Bruce Lindahl’s DNA profile is now being used to investigate unsolved cases that may be solved as a result of the break in the Maurer case. I urge anyone with any information about Bruce Lindahl, any crimes involving Bruce Lindahl or any possible victims of Bruce Lindahl to please contact us via our tip line at 630-407-8107 or Detective Chris Loudon of the Lisle Police Department at 630-271-4252.”

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