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Cigarette butt leads to arrest in cold case murder

WASATCH COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – A man has been arrested in Florida in connection with the cold case murder of a teenager in Midway nearly 18 years ago after detectives linked DNA evidence to him through a cigarette butt.
WASATCH COUNTY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – A man has been arrested in Florida in connection with the cold case murder of a teenager in Midway nearly 18 years ago after detectives linked DNA evidence to him through a cigarette butt.

Authorities arrested 46-year-old Joseph Michael Simpson with the help of deputies investigators in Sarasota County, Florida.

Krystal Lynn Beslanowitch was found dead near the Provo River in 1995 outside of Midway. The 17-year-old was bludgeoned to death.

Leads turned dry and the case remained unsolved for nearly 18 years.

In 2006, advances in the Utah State Crime Lab allowed Wasatch County Sheriff’s investigators to run DNA found at the crime scene. A match was made to Simpson.

Simpson’s DNA was in the system for serving time in the Utah State Prison from 1987 to 1995 on a murder conviction. After Simpson’s release, he moved to Florida in 1999.

Wasatch County Sheriff Todd Bonner said within the past year he and other detectives traveled to Florida and tracked Simpson to a smoke shop. Simpson lit up a cigarette and flicked the butt away. Investigators collected the cigarette butt for evidence.

The DNA found on the cigarette butt matched the DNA found at Krystal’s crime scene.

Krystal’s mother, Line Sounders of Spokane, Washington, never thought there would be a break in the case. She said her daughter’s death was the most devastating thing that ever happened to her.

“Well after 17 years it’s kind of doubtful,” she said. “I’m overwhelmed.”

But said despite being overwhelmed, she is ready to face the man suspected of killing her daughter.

“I'd like to see that guy,” she said. “I mean he so horribly killed my daughter.”

Bonner could only thank the investigators for their hard work. Wasatch County detectives reached out to the State of Utah Crime Lab, Sorensen Forensics, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder and cold case investigator Todd Park, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, and the Ogden Metro Major Crimes Task Force.

“It's a case that's haunted me for almost my whole career,” Bonner said. “It’s closure for me. I’m very thrilled at the outcome, but it has taken a lot of time and a lot of work.”

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