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DNA from letter helps solve 34-year-old cold case murder of Pa. mom

The cold case murder of a 26-year-old Pennsylvania mother in 1988 has been finally solved thanks to DNA evidence found on a chilling letter sent to a local newspaper decades ago with intimate details of the crime. 

Anna Kane was 26 when she was strangled to death and her body found on October 23, 1988, along Ontelaunee Trail in Perry Township.

On Oct. 23, 1988, 26-year-old Anna Jean Kane was found beaten and strangled to death.Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers

Nearly 35 years after her grisly death, her killer has been identified as Scott Grim thanks to breakthrough DNA genetic genealogy technology, Pennsylvania State Police and Berks County District Attorney John Adams announced during a press conference Thursday.

Following the 1988 murder, DNA evidence was collected from Kane’s clothes. When they were tested, it yielded an undetermined male DNA profile, but no match was found.

In 1990, the Reading Eagle newspaper ran a front page story about Kane’s homicide asking for help with information in the case.

In February 1990 the paper received an anonymous letter signed by a “concerned citizen” that had “numerous intimate details” about the homicide, State Police Trooper Daniel Womer said.

“This led investigators to believe that whoever wrote the letter had committed the homicide,” Womer said. 

The saliva-sealed envelope the letter had been sent in was tested for DNA, and it matched the DNA profile found on Kane’s clothing.

This year, genetic genealogy testing from that DNA profile was completed by Parabon NanoLabs in Virginia — a lab that has helped solve a slew of cold cases.

The results determined a possible suspect was Scott Grim. However, he’ll never face justice. He died in 2018 of natural causes, at the age of 58. He would have been 26 at the time of Kane’s murder.

Police then obtained a direct sample of Grim’s DNA for their own testing and it matched the DNA profile on the letter envelope and the profile found Kane’s clothes. Officials did not elaborate on how they got that sample.

“We were able to take the direct sample from Scott Grim. … We had our Pennsylvania State Police Lab do a direct comparison to the DNA from the letter in 1990 as well as the original evidence from the victim’s clothing, all of which showed the same contributor, being Scott Grim — his DNA profile was on all of those items,” Womer said.

Police praised the work of the original investigators in the case, saying their collection of evidence was key to solving the case now that DNA technology has evolved.

Police said Grim did not appear in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, which was launched in 1998. They found that Grim, who hailed from the Hamburg area, had been arrested in 2002 in Berks County in a harassment case in which he allegedly mailed intimidating letters to his former business partner.

Officials said an investigation continues into Grim’s history and background, including his exact relationship with Kane. Police said so far in interviews with people who knew Grim did not reveal any relationship between the two.

“That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some connection we haven’t found yet,” Womer said.

Womer acknowledged it has been previously reported that Kane worked as a prostitute and it’s possible Grim could have been a customer.

The Reading Eagle described Kane as a mother of three. She had lived in Reading but had moved to the Birdsboro area shortly before she was murdered, officials said.

Berks County District Attorney Adams praised authorities for their diligent work in the case.

“I know in some respects the fact that he is deceased, he will never face justice as we all would have hoped for this homicide,” he said. “But we solved it. We gave some closure to the family.”

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