Cigarette butts and fingerprints from an Oklahoma rest stop 35 years ago have led a suspect identified in a cold case, according to the state’s attorney general.
First-degree murder charges have been filed against Earl Wilson, 55, for the death of Paul Aikman in 1985, according to a press release from Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office.
“Advances in DNA technology are allowing authorities to take another look at these difficult cases,” Hunter said. “Just because cases go cold doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t be held responsible, even after three decades.”
Court records do not show whether Wilson has retained an attorney.
In September 1985, Aikman was stabbed to death at a rest stop on the Turner Turnpike in Lincoln County, the release said. The turnpike connects Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the state’s two largest cities.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents collected cigarette butts and latent fingerprints from the crime scene, which allowed investigators to develop a DNA profile of a suspect, but no matches were found at the time, the release said.
The case went cold for 33 years.
Then last year, a search by OSBI criminalists of the national DNA database CODIS found a potential match to the DNA recovered at the rest stop, the release said. Criminalists then matched the latent fingerprint impression taken at the crime scene to Wilson.
Wilson is currently in an Oklahoma prison for a sexual battery conviction, prison records show.
“For 35 years, Paul Aikman’s family has ached not knowing who was responsible for his murder,” said OSBI Director Ricky Adams. “35 years have passed, but we have not forgotten about Paul. Thanks to science and determined police work by OSBI agents and our Cold Case Unit, we are pleased to announce that the suspect in Paul’s murder has been identified.”