Suspect arrested in 38-year-old murder case

Robert Pilcher, 66, of Des Moines, Iowa

The following is a press release issued Tuesday evening by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation:

On Tuesday, law enforcement arrested Robert Eugene Pilcher, 66, of Des Moines, Iowa in connection with the 1974 homicide of 17-year-old Mary Jayne Jones of Ottumwa.

Pilcher was arrested by Wapello County Sheriff's deputies and agents of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Tuesday at the A-1 Motel in Des Moines.

On April 9, 1974 the body of Mary Jane Jones was discovered in a farmhouse outside Blakesburg in rural Wapello County.

Jones had been shot to death and was sexually assaulted.

A thorough crime scene investigation was conducted by the DCI Crime Laboratory and law enforcement immediately after the victim was discovered.

As a result of this investigation several items of evidentiary value were collected and stored at the Wapello County Sheriffâ??s Office.

A full investigative report was compiled and a record of that investigative file was kept in the records division of DCI.

The residence in which the victim was located was owned by Pilcherâ??s cousin, who was out of town at the time of the victimâ??s death.

Pilcher had access to his cousinâ??s vehicle and access to the farmhouse during the time period in which the death occurred.

Pilcher was interviewed during the 1974 investigation.

Under a federally funded grant, DCI operated a Cold Case Unit from 2009-2011.

This unit was designed specifically to re-examine unsolved crimes and determine if further investigation and scientific analysis could lead to an arrest.

Members of the Cold Case Unit resubmitted items collected from the crime scene and from Jones' body to the DCI Crime Laboratory for additional DNA testing using analysis technology not available at the time of the homicide.

A DNA profile was developed from the resubmitted evidence and entered into the Combined DNA Index System(CODIS).

This database searches DNA profiles from convicted offenders, unsolved crime scene evidence, and missing persons.

As a result of this search the DNA profile developed from the evidence found at the crime scene was matched with a known DNA profile of Robert Eugene Pilcher.

Pilcher is currently being held in the Wapello County Jail on $1 million bond pending an initial court appearance.

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