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Las Vegas police crack 1980 cold case murder with DNA, suspect arrested

<i>LVMPD/ KVVU</i><br/>Las Vegas Metropolitan Police have arrested Paul Nuttall in a 1980 cold case with the help of DNA.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police have arrested Paul Nuttall in a 1980 cold case with the help of DNA.

By Elaine Emerson and Kim Passoth

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    LAS VEGAS, Nevada (KVVU) — Las Vegas Metropolitan Police have arrested a suspect in a 1980 cold case with the help of DNA.

LVMPD Lt. Jason Johansson announced that Paul Nuttall, 64, was arrested in connection with the Dec. 26, 1980 murder of Sandra DiFelice. DiFelice was sexually assaulted and killed at her home on East Bonanza Road.

Police said in Feb. 2021, they received a call from DiFelice’s daughter, who was 3 years old at the time of the murder, asking for an update on the investigation. LVMPD detectives reviewed the case and found new evidence to be submitted for DNA testing.

“DNA recovered from under the fingernails of Sandra DiFelice identified the suspect as Paul Nuttall,” Johansson said in a Monday news release. “Paul Nuttall was identified initially as a person of interest in the initial phase of the investigation.”

Later, the Clark County District Attorney issued an arrest warrant for Nuttall, who was taken into custody by LVMPD and the FBI. Nuttall was arrested in northwest Las Vegas.

“After Paul Nuttall was taken into custody, my cold case investigators had the pleasure of making the phone call that every cold case detective wants to make,” Johansson said. “And that was to call the family member, specifically Sandra DiFelice’s daughter, and let her know that there had been a development case, and that we had arrested the suspect responsible for the murder.”

Nuttall was a person of interest during the initial investigation, LVMPD said.

“We did identify a fingerprint in the residence that belonged to Paul Nuttall. But after several interviews with witnesses and people related to Sandra DiFelice we found an explanation for why that fingerprint was there,” Johansson said. “We don’t believe that Paul Nuttall was a friend of Sandra DiFelice’s but we do know that he knew her roommate and that they knew each other possible in passing.”

Nuttall was booked into the Clark County Detention Center for open murder, sexual assault, and burglary with a deadly weapon and is being held without bond. Nuttall is set to go before a judge Wednesday.

Metro solves most murders. Last year, their clearance rate was 90 percent. The goal no matter how long ago the crime was committed is to solve them all.

“Unfortunately, there are those cases that we can’t solve, and it is important that everyone realizes that we never forget,” contended Lt. Ray Spencer.

Earlier this year, FOX5 sat down with Lt. Spencer who explained the Cold Case Unit was beefing up their efforts adding 3 fulltime detectives and a supervisor.

LVMPD shares the faces and stories of those whose murders are unsolved going back to the 1950s on their website. From a 17-year-old student whose body was dumped on the side on the road, to a taxi driver found dead in his cab, to an elderly woman found strangled in her home, these cases are cold but not closed.

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