In what is now becoming more commonplace in police agencies across the world, DNA evidence has resolved another decades-old cold case- this time bringing the total case closed count to 100 in the city of Denver alone.

The Denver Cold Case Project, and investigation unit amassed by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, has reviewed thousands of cold case investigations over the past several years identifying potential cases where new DNA technology may potentially be applied.  The evidence, sometimes as old as three decades or more, contains biological evidence in some form which with today’s technology lies hope in case resolution.

Patricia Beard: Victim vindicated after 30 year wait

Patricia Beard was sexually assaulted and murdered in 1981 in Denver.  Her assailant was never before identified and charged.  Beard’s body was found after she was reported missing for several days by a family member in her East 11th Avenue apartment.  No charges were filed and the case lay dormant for more than 30 years as cold case murder investigation.

Upon review by the Denver Cold Case Project this past year, the case was reexamined using DNA testing technology against biological samples left by the perpetrator at the crime scene.  Once testing was conducted, a suspect named Hector Bencomo-Hinojos, age 53, was named.  Hinojos has since been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Patricia Beard, then aged 32, and is awaiting extradition from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections where he is jailed for an unrelated crime.

100 cases resolved in Denver alone

The Denver Cold Case Project has announced the resolution of the Beard murder as a milestone in the goal to resolve as many cold case investigations in the Denver area as possible.  In addition to the successful conclusion of this murder, the project has successfully closed the following outstanding cold case crimes since its inception:

Cold Cases Closed Denver Cold Case Project Sentence Given
Donald Hicks Convicted of murdering a woman in Denver in 1994.  After a cellmate provided testimony against Hicks, a DNA test for evidence from the crime concluded Hicks was the culprit. Life in Prison- No chance of parol.
Michael Hicks Repeat sexual predator who entered the home of the victim and sexually assaulted her.  Results of the investigation indicated two more victims were assaulted during the same period of time using the perpetrator’s same MO. Additional 25 years added to existing sentence of 60 years for unrelated prior sexual assault charge.
Benjamin Anderson Serial rapist who left a victim paralyzed after a 1994 sexual assault.  Victim was left to die on railroad tracks. Sentenced to 80 years for crime.
Wayne Glasser Serial rapist who in addition to 1996 armed rape charge admitted to hundreds of additional sexually motivated attacks. Sentenced to 60 years for aggravated rape.
Lavonne Barron Knife-wielding repeat sexual offender entered the home and assaulted woman in 1996. Sentenced to 72 years for “habitual” crimes.
Tracy Horrell Identified by a single root-less hair on the victims skirt, Horrell was charged and convicted of rape and assault. Sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Lance Pegues Habitual sexual offender convicted of entering victim’s home in the middle of the night and sexually assaulting her in 2005. Sentenced to 96 years to life.


Cases solved thanks to DNA testing

In January, 2007, Wisconsin, Danyetta Lentz and her two children; Nicole Lentz aged 14 and Scott Lentz aged 17. The three were found murdered in their mobile home. The family was found strangled and forensic investigations led to the conviction of James Koepp