Investigators hope to identity a cable repairman linked to the murder of Tracey Neilson

By Johnny Dodd
Updated January 08, 2015 09:30 PM
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Credit: Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation

Investigators in Oklahoma are reaching out to the public with an old piece of evidence that they hope could help them to finally solve a 34-year-old brutal homicide.

“A lot of people around here haven’t forgotten about this murder,” Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown tells PEOPLE about the 1981 stabbing death of 21-year-old Tracey Neilson. “It hurt a lot of people deeply and the pain is still there.”

Over the years, investigators combed through nearly 1,600 leads but the case eventually went cold. Earlier this week, investigators announced that an old cable service log book might contain some clues to help them track down the person who stabbed Neilson to death in her home in Moore, Oklahoma, on Jan. 5, 1981.

The last page in the log book found at the crime scene is for work at Nielsen’s home at 11:51 a.m., shortly before investigators believe she was murdered. At the bottom left hand corner of the ticket are several scribbled initials and an employee number.

“We are looking for who belongs to that number and to those initials,” Brown says. “That’s the information we are trying to identify in the hopes it could help us generate some leads.”

Investigators have been unable to identify the cable company, but over the past couple of days they have received “numerous” calls from people who have helped detectives interpret the scrawls. “We now know more than we did on Monday,” says Brown.

While technological advances have enabled law enforcement to use evidence like DNA to help solve decades-old criminal cases, biological evidence isn’t the only tool that investigators use.

“We recently solved a 30-year-old case due to the fact that relationships among people change over the years,” explains Brown. “The case involved a woman who killed somebody and her husband knew about it and never went to the authorities. But they got a divorce and he eventually decided to come forward and tell us about it. We were able to build a case [from his information] and ended up convicting her.”