A Pennsylvania man was charged with fatally stabbing a 19-year-old woman 46 years ago after investigators obtained his DNA from a coffee cup at an airport earlier this year, authorities said Monday.
David Sinopoli, 68, had never been considered a suspect in the 1975 murder of Lindy Sue Biechler until an investigator, Cece Moore, used crime scene DNA to determine that the killer’s likely ancestors came from a town in Southern Italy. , reporters told Monday.
After sifting through age-old records and developing Sinopoli as a person of interest, Moore said, she passed the information on to authorities in Lancaster County.
“Frankly, without it, I don’t think we would have ever solved it,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said at a news conference.
Sinopoli was arrested at his home on Sunday and charged with criminal murder, Adams said. He was held without bail in Lancaster County Prison.
Biechler’s aunt and uncle found her body in her apartment on the night of December 5, 1975 in what Adams called a “horrific scene.” There was blood on the inside and outside of the front door, on the carpet, and on one wall, she said.
A knife protruded from Biechler’s neck, and investigators later determined she had been stabbed 19 times, Adams said.
At the time, dozens of people were acquitted of the murder, and the case eventually went cold, Adams said.
DNA extracted from semen in her underwear was submitted to a national law enforcement database in 1997, but the profile turned up no matches, Adams said.
In 2020, Moore and her company, Parabon NanoLabs, began pursuing what she described as a “new” strategy to identify people of interest to authorities after traditional genealogy research yielded only distant matches, she said.
Moore determined that the person involved in the DNA had roots in Gasperina, a village in the Calabria region, she said.
“Very few people of the right age, gender and pedigree lived in Lancaster,” she said.
Sinopoli had never been “on our radar,” Adams said. “No tip has ever suggested him.”
Investigators kept an eye on him for months, and on Feb. 11, they picked up a coffee cup that he tossed into a garbage can at the Philadelphia International Airport. DNA obtained from the cup matched the DNA found in Biechler’s underwear, Adams said.
Authorities confirmed the finding after analyzing two bloodstains on Biechler’s tights, she said.
A possible motive for the murder remained unclear. Adams said only that in 1974 Sinopoli appeared to have lived in the same apartment complex as Biechler.
It was not immediately clear whether Sinapoli had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.