A 52-year-old Isanti man was charged with second-degree murder after a discarded hot dog napkin linked him to a 26-year-old murder investigation.
Jerry Westrom was officially charged with second-degree murder in the death of Ann Childs, who was 35 at the time of her death. Childs was a sex worker who was found murdered in her Minneapolis apartment on June 13, 1993. Law enforcement officials learned that Westrom lived in the Twin Cities during the time of the murder and records indicated that he had contact with law enforcement related to solicitation of a prostitute.
Law enforcement began surveillance on Westrom in January 2019, hoping to obtain a legal DNA sample. At one point, they followed Westrom to a hockey game where they watched him buy a hot dog. After eating the hot dog, Westrom wiped his mouth with a napkin and then later discarded the napkin. Investigators grabbed the napkin and conducted a DNA analysis, which revealed that Westrom’s DNA was a match for DNA found at the 1993 crime scene.
More DNA Collected
After the match was made, Westrom was taken into custody and a formal DNA sample was acquired. Investigators believe it is a likely match for other DNA found in the apartment.
When meeting with investigators, Westrom denied knowing Childs or being at the apartment, and he said he did not have sex with women in Minneapolis in 1993. When confronted with the DNA evidence, Westrom could not explain why his DNA would be in Childs’ apartment.
In Minnesota, a second-degree murder charge carries the potential penalty of up to 40 years in prison. Needless to say, Westrom is going to want to find a good defense firm, because that’s a lengthy jail sentence and the evidence is mounting against him. People need to remember that police do not need a warrant to collect evidence that the individual throws away or discards, so this was a perfectly legal search. It’s crazy to think that a hot dog could have helped solve a decades-old cold case murder right here in our own backyard.
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