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Idaho’s 1987 cold case solved with DNA recovered from the victim’s fingernails, police say

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A 32-year-old Idaho cold case murder has been solved through DNA found on the victim’s fingernails

Tammy Bristow, 18, was strangled was found in her apartment in Sandpoint on Jan. 8, 1987. The police had initially arrested a suspect and, more recently, a DNA test cleared him, and find a new murderer.

William Acosta, of Ponderay, Idaho, was just 17 when Bristow was killed. Prosecutors said the 18-year-old has been a baby-sitter for Acosta’s girlfriend, at the time of her death.

On Friday, Acosta was charged with her murder.

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Police said William Acosta, 49, was charged with the murder of an 18-year-old Tammy Bristow, in Sandpoint, Idaho is 32 years ago, by means of the DNA found on the victim’s side.
(Sandpoint Police Department )

The Idaho State Police lab is in the first instance, it does not have the capacity to carry out DNA tests on the scrapings from Bristow, the nails, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported.

When the test was carried out and the DNA was entered into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System), which is returned as a match for Acosta, the paper reported.

“I have to point out that no one is left out Tammy Bristow, in the course of the years,” Detective Mike Aerni, said at a news conference Friday the announcement of Acosta’s arrest.

The DNA test is also cleared, Fredrick Gauerke, as the prime suspect in the murder.

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Gauerke, a change in the time, Bristow is the Bible to him, as he broke into a woman’s apartment six days after the murder, and soon was holding her captive, KXYL-TV reported.

“This is a strong proof, at the time,” Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall said, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

After he was accused of the murder, Gauerke spent 11 months in jail until the case against him was dismissed, the paper reported. The prosecution’s case rested on the fiber evidence and that the FBI was “not conclusive.”

The Daily Bee reported that Acosta has more than 15 years in prison, from 1988 to 2007 for crimes including aggravated assault on an Arizona law enforcement officer.

Bristow’s best friend, told me KXYL, that the arrest was a relief.

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“I don’t think they will ever forget it,” Karen Bishop said.

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