ST. PAUL —The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the Duluth Police Department announced that a suspect has been linked by DNA to the 1981 murder of 17-year-old Carolyn Andrew of Duluth. Investigators believe Cecil Wayne Oliver, who died in 1988 at the age of 30, was involved in the assault and murder of Andrew.
Carolyn Andrew was last seen on May 5, 1981, when she left her family’s home on foot to go to Ridgeview Lanes bowling alley on Calvary Road. She never arrived. Her body was found the next day partially submerged in Twin Ponds off Skyline Parkway. She died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Evidence submitted to the BCA for testing in 1981 did not provide any information helpful to the investigation. Investigators continued to work the case and scientists periodically reexamined the evidence over the years. While advances in DNA testing led to a full male DNA profile of the suspect, no matching profiles were found in state or national DNA databases.
Despite a 33 year investigation, including more than one hundred interviews, the pursuit of hundreds of leads, and numerous forensic advancements, no clear suspect emerged who could be linked to the crime.
Partial DNA search leads to a full DNA match
In March 2014, BCA scientists conducted a search of the state DNA database using the male portion of the DNA obtained from Andrew’s remains. This resulted in a partial DNA match to a known offender, meaning the suspect was likely a close relative of the known offender. This new information led investigators to a deceased relative of the offender who lived in Duluth at the time of Carolyn Andrews’ death and who frequented several of the same establishments.
At the request of Duluth Police Department investigators and BCA agents, Cook County, Illinois, authorities obtained a DNA sample from the remains of Cecil Wayne Oliver. Forensic testing performed by the BCA matched Oliver’s DNA to the full DNA profile obtained from Andrew’s remains.
“Through excellent evidence collection and preservation along with solid investigative work done at the onset of this tragic case we were able to bring it a conclusion with the help of modern technology,” said Duluth Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsey.
“This ongoing relationship between investigative techniques and advancing science has led us to answers that we, and Carolyn Andrews’ family, have sought for decades,” said Wade Setter, BCA Superintendent.