This undated photo provided by the Colorado Springs Police shows James Edward Papol. Papol, 46, was arrested Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, in Pueblo, Colorado, on suspicion of murder, more than 30 years after Mary Lynne Vialpando’s body was found in an alley. Papol is being held without bond. (Colorado Springs Police department via AP)
DENVER – Colorado police have arrested a man in a 30-year old murder case on Thursday, claimed he sexually assaulted, stabbed and beat a woman to death in an alley when he was 15.
The researchers said DNA testing helped them to James Edward Papol, 46, but not sharing more details to prevent the case against him. The Thursday arrested in Pueblo faces murder charges in the death of the 24-year-old, Mary Lynne Vialpando.
Papol was held without bond, and it was not clear whether he had a lawyer to respond to his name.
Vialpando was last seen around 2 am on June 5, 1988, police said. She attended a wedding with her husband in Pueblo, but they argued after returning to their home in Colorado Springs and she ran away.
The police later spoke with witnesses who believed they saw Vialpando in a nearby bar and watched her leave through a back door. Her body was found in a nearby alley the next morning.
Colorado Springs police chief Peter Carey said DNA testing of the evidence played a role in the arrest, but he has not indicated what types of tests were performed.
District Attorney Dan May be called to the alley where Vialpando was found in 1988 as a young officer of justice. May said the researchers were among the first in Colorado to collect forensic evidence after a crime in the hope of testing of DNA. The technology is still relatively new in the late 1980’s.
In 2017, the Colorado Springs Police Department released a composite image of a suspect, created with the help of DNA evidence found at the scene. The composite showed a man with blond hair, blue eyes and pale skin.
The researchers said at the time that the technology limitations and could not exactly picture.
The Police has a special unit to investigate cold cases, including approximately 100 murders. Carey is credited for that team never to give up on decades-old cases.
“This arrest will not bring closure to the family of Mrs. Vialpando and the loved ones they have left behind,” Carey said. “However, I hope this brings a degree of peace to each of them.”
May said Vialpando family described relieved feeling, but know that an arrest “is just one of the steps in the overall process.”
Vialpando’s daughter, Coral, told the Colorado Springs Gazette this summer that they are losing hope that DNA can help identify her mother’s killer after 30 years. She was 4 when her mother died.
“I have taught myself to be numb to this situation, try not to think about it, so I don’t feel about it,” Coral Vialpando said. “But there is always hope.”