DNA from Vanilla Coke Can Leads to Arrest of Suspect in Colo. Woman's 1981 Killing

Sylvia Quayle died after being strangled, stabbed and shot in the head in early August 1981

Sylvia Quayle
Sylvia Quayle. Photo: Metro Denver Crime Stoppers

Investigators in Colorado claim they've solved a decades-old cold murder case, charging a 62-year-old Nebraska man with the brutal killing after connecting him to the crime scene using DNA evidence recovered from an empty can of Vanilla Coke.

During a press conference held Thursday, officials said David Dwayne Anderson has been formally charged with the sexual assault and murder of Sylvia Quayle.

Quayle, 35, was killed on Aug. 3, 1981. The following morning, her father discovered her nude body inside her Cherry Hills Village residence.

Authorities said she had been sexually assaulted before being strangled, stabbed and shot in the head.

Sylvia Quayle
Sylvia Quayle. Metro Denver Crime Stoppers

Anderson was detained near Cozad, but lives in North Platte, according to police.

An autopsy determined Quayle died from blood loss caused by stab wounds to her lungs and heart, with a gunshot wound listed as a secondary cause of death.

Investigators never gave up on the case, and tested an area rug recovered from the crime scene in 1995, determining it contained DNA not belonging to the victim.

David Anderson in 1980
Cherry Hills Village PD

In 2000, a male DNA profile was developed and submitted to two national genetics databases.

Late last month, a match determined the DNA was Anderson's, and investigators traveled to Nebraska, collecting two bags of his trash.

David Dwayne Anderson
David Dwayne Anderson. Dawson County Sheriff's Office

Detectives found used alcohol bottles, as well as a discarded can of Vanilla Coke. They were able to recover genetic material from the can that matched the DNA found on the area rug.

Anderson was arrested on Feb. 10 in Nebraska.

He will be extradited back to Colorado, where he's charged with two counts of first-degree murder. One of the charges alleges Quayle was killed after deliberation, while the other alleges she was killed in the commission of another felony: the sexual assault.

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Anderson will be prosecuted under the laws in place back in 1981, District Attorney John Kellner announced. Hence, if convicted, he'd likely be sentenced to life without parole.

He has not appeared in court to plead to the charges. PEOPLE was unable to ascertain who his lawyer is.

Police initially thought they'd solved the murder in 1983, when drifter Ottis Elwood Toole confessed to killing Quayle and was charged with her murder. However, like his friend Henry Lee Lucas, Toole falsely confessed to several murders. Officials ultimately dropped the charge against him.

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