Cold case closed as 1998 Pr. George's murderer gets 25 years
It took more than a decade, but Prince George's prosecutors and police obtained a measure of justice for a young woman who was killed in Landover nearly 12 years ago.
On Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Sheila R. Tillerson-Adams sentenced Gary Parham Jr., 32, to 25 years in prison for the murder of Theodora Lynette Cooper.
Parham was convicted of second-degree murder in Cooper's stabbing death. He entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to secure a conviction.
Cooper's body was found by police in the hallway of her apartment on Aug. 5, 1998. Homicide detectives determined that a violent struggle had occurred in Cooper's bedroom and the hallway in which she was found.
Cooper, who was 26 and the mother of two, suffered 13 stab wounds and 26 cutting wounds, authorities said.
Blood swabs collected from Cooper's apartment were submitted to the Maryland State Police crime lab, which determined that some of the blood belonged to Cooper and some to an unknown person, said State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey.
The DNA profile of the unknown person was entered in the Maryland state DNA database, but no matches were found, officials said.
Investigators didn't give up. DNA checks were conducted periodically.
The persistence paid off in December 2004, when the state police lab notified county police homicide detectives that a match had been found.
The DNA from the murder scene matched DNA samples taken from Parham after he was convicted in 2001 for robbery with a deadly weapon and a handgun violation in Prince George's Circuit Court. By then, Parham had been paroled, and authorities could not find him.
TV outlets helped keep the case in the public eye: Gary Krebs of WRC-NBC Channel 4 in Washington featured the murder as a cold case story, and America's Most Wanted did a piece on the search for Parham.
On Jan. 27, 2009, Parham was arrested in Miami after his girlfriend reported his whereabouts, authorities said.
The apprehension, guilty plea, and sentencing of Parham "is yet another example of how DNA technology is an effective tool for fighting violent crime," Ivey said.
-- Ruben Castaneda
April 14, 2010; 2:14 PM ET
Categories: Cold Cases , Homicide , Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda , Unsolved
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