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An 84-year-old woman was brutally killed nearly 30 years ago. DNA advancements led police to her neighbor

By Sara Smart and Christina Maxouris, CNN

(CNN) — For more than two decades, the brutal killing of 84-year-old Wilma Mobley remained a cold case.

Mobley was found dead in Jerome, Idaho, on August 10, 1995, and had been strangled and attacked with an “axe type instrument,” authorities say.

Police had identified several potential suspects, but never had enough evidence to conclude one was responsible. That changed this year, when new advancements and DNA collected from Mobley’s underclothing at the time of her killing led authorities to her neighbor, Jerome’s police chief announced in a news release on Wednesday.

The suspect, Danny Lee Kennison, died by suicide in his Filer, Idaho, home in 2001, Police Chief Duane Rubink said.

Kennison had been one of three possible suspects throughout the investigation, the police chief said, but without conclusive evidence, the case eventually went cold.

Authorities continued to come back to it, asking help from the FBI and the Idaho State Police lab to help catch the killer, Rubink said.

In the summer of 2022, a new detective reviewed the case and the evidence that was collected at the time of the killing, and sent items to the state police forensic lab for testing in March 2023.

The break in the case finally came just this week when state police lab technicians reported they found a “significant amount of a DNA profile” matching Kennison on a clasp of Mobley’s underclothing that had been sent for testing, the police chief said.

“Advancements in DNA science have the power to unveil the truth even after years of uncertainty,” Idaho State Police said in a Facebook post. “Science, when combined with relentless investigative dedication, can unravel mysteries and bring closure to victims and their families.”

Kennison and Mobley were neighbors at the time of her killing, but did not have a personal relationship, according to police.

“With the amount of DNA matching Kennison, excluding the other suspects mentioned in the case file, and no other DNA profile present, the Jerome Police Department is closing this case,” Rubink said.

The detective who took over the case met with family members on Tuesday and delivered the news, police said.

“The Jerome Police Department thanks the officers, detectives, and prosecutors who have worked on this case over the years, and helped to preserve the evidence which was available for this testing,” Rubink added.

Jerome is located about 115 miles southeast of Boise.

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