An update of a cold case could finally bring closure to those who have known since 1980, when witnesses recalled a man in a camouflage-clad, short haircut, coat and mask fleeing a shooting scene
A Kentucky teenager has been identified as a teenager who fled the scene of a 1980 police shooting in the Nevada desert.
DNA testing has solved a Nevada cold case – but the killer is still at large | Bernie Maddox Read more
The New York Times reported this week that Derek Euchler, who was 16 when he and another teenager were shot and killed in a desert in November 1980, was identified through new tests done by the FBI at its Quantico lab.
A week ago, after failing to match DNA samples taken from Euchler and from another teenager who survived the shooting, a FBI scientist was able to identify the two faces in images of Euchler taken from surveillance cameras at a Denver airport.
“After several years of investigation, I am elated to report that a positive match has been found,” Nevada assistant attorney general Scott Burns said in a statement, referring to the video footage.
Euchler was one of three teenagers from central and south-western Kentucky whom police and the FBI investigated following the killing of six people and wounding of eight more in October 1980.
A gunman, who witnesses described as wearing a camouflage-clad, short haircut, coat and mask fleeing the scene, was believed to be one of the six people shot during the attack that left one dead.
An FBI scientist determined there was a 99.9% match between Euchler and another man from Kentucky with facial images in the video that the FBI released this week.
At the time, FBI experts did not suggest anyone was a suspect in the case and withheld information. In later years, the agency only offered cash rewards of up to $100,000 for tips leading to an arrest.
This week, Burns said: “More than 30 years after the murders of Derek and the other Kentuckian teenagers, there is still no arrest in the case. The reward remains, however, and any assistance in locating the person or persons responsible for the murders is greatly appreciated.”
In an interview with the Times, Euchler’s mother, William Hopkins-Hander, 61, from nearby Blue Ash, Kentucky, said she had never given up hope of finding her son’s killer. Hopkins-Hander and Euchler’s father were divorced in 1984. Hopkins-Hander said that she had been told Euchler had lied about his age to get an apartment in the Denver area.
Hopkins-Hander said that she had “regret” for letting her son move away and that she had “no vengeance”, but she had received an email from his brother who took the older man’s name.
“He said, ‘Mary, find him. Find him,’” Hopkins-Hander told the Times. “I’m like, ‘OK, I can do that.’”