RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – More than 40 years later, Raleigh police solved the rape and murder of a 77-year-old woman.
The last time the Jones family stood on Sawyer Road was Christmas Eve 1977. They embraced as they learned their loved one, Alma Jone,s was raped and killed in her home there.
“I was about 20 years old. It was rough. It’s a vision that sticks with you when you walk in the door and see your grandmother stretched out and unclothed,” said the victim’s grandson Kenneth Evans.
On Thursday, the family embraced for a different reason as they now know the person responsible for their pain.
Jones’ case initially went cold in the 70s until 2011 when Detective Jerry Faulk stumbled across the case file, teaming up with Othram DNA Lab based in Texas. Crime scene evidence and a saliva swab from the suspect’s family member helped identify the killer.
“We work with DNA evidence from these crime scenes that are very old that have very challenging DNA, so this would be DNA evidence that would probably not even be accepted at other labs. This is an amazingly powerful technique and when you’ve exhausted all other opportunities and leads this is what you need to do,” said Othram CEO David Mittelman.
Jones’ killer was identified Thursday as Paul Crowder. He died in 2015 following a prison stint for unrelated crimes. Crowder was the grandson of Jones’ neighbor at the time and known around the neighborhood.
Faulk said it was never a question of if he was going to solve the case, but when. He now has a warning for suspects in other cold cases.
“For the suspect who has committed a crime many years ago, don’t think you’ve gotten away with it because you haven’t,” Faulk said.
Jones family said Alma was a baker and churchgoer who wouldn’t hurt anyone. As her case closes, the family said it’s fitting that a church now sits in place of Alma’s old home where she took her final breaths, so she can now rest in peace.
“We know our faith and we just believe she has fulfilled her time here on earth. And that helps us move forward,” said Jacqueline Evans Watson, Alma’s great-granddaughter.
Everyone involved is hopeful the new and constantly improving DNA technology will help solve even more cases in the future.