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28 years after Idaho woman’s brutal murder, DNA on clasp of underwear points to her former neighbor as the killer

A decades-old homicide case has been solved in Idaho, thanks to modern forensic tests that linked the former neighbor of a slain woman to her murder nearly 30 years later. Authorities announced this week that Danny Lee Kennison was identified as the attacker in Wilma Mobley’s brutal killing in Jerome on Aug. 10, 1995.

Mobley was 84 years old when officers found her dead from strangulation and an “attack with an axe type instrument,” said Jerome Police Chief Duane Rubink in anews releaseissued Wednesday. At the time, Kennison and Mobley were neighbors, although authorities said they did not have any personal relationship.

Kennison died by suicide at his home in Filer, Idaho, in 2001. He was originally identified by investigators in the 90s as one of three possible suspects in Mobley’s killing. But the case eventually ran cold, as the investigation failed to come up with conclusive evidence pointing to a specific attacker, the police chief said.

The cold case was reviewed again in the years that followed Mobley’s murder, and Rubink said that Jerome police coordinated with the FBI, the Idaho State Police Lab and other forensic sources while trying to identify the killer, to no avail. By 2006, police could only develop a minor lead that Rubnik described as “unproductive.”

New investigators would continue to review the case over the next decade, in hopes that fresh eyes could help make headway. In June 2022, Sgt. Clinton Wagner took over the investigation at the Jerome Police Department and contacted the Idaho State Police forensics lab to submit the case for more advanced DNA analysis than had been conducted in the past. Rubink said Wagner and state police lab technicians went over evidence collected during previous iterations of the investigation into Mobley’s murder and ultimately sent a portion of it to the lab for testing in March of this year.

On Monday, lab technicians reported that “a significant amount of a DNA profile” matching Kennison had been found on a clasp from Mobley’s underwear. Rubink said police have closed the cold case because of the amount of DNA matching Kennison and excluding the other suspects mentioned in Mobley’s case file, and because no other DNA profile was present.

Rubink said that Wagner met with Mobley’s family members on Tuesday to tell them the case was closed.

“The Jerome Police Department thanks the officers, detectives, and prosecutors who have worked on this case over the years, and helped to preserve the evidence which was available for this testing,” he said. “We also greatly appreciate the support and efforts put forth by the members of the Idaho State Police Forensics lab who made this closure possible for the victim’s family, and our department.”

Jerome is a city in southern Idaho, about halfway between Boise and Idaho Falls.

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