LISLE - Exactly 44 years ago, authorities found 16-year-old Pamela Maurer dead on the side of the road in west suburban Lisle.
She had been raped and strangled — most likely with a rubber hose found near her body.
On Monday, authorities announced they’ve identified a likely serial killer responsible for the 1976 rape and strangulation of Maurer, a Downers Grove South High School junior from Woodridge.
Using a new type of DNA analysis — the same used to identify the Golden State Killer — DuPage County prosecutors say they’ve identified the killer as Bruce Lindahl, who died in 1981.
“I suspect him to be a serial killer,” Lisle police detective Chris Loudon said in a news conference. “We finally put a name and a face to this monster.”
Maurer’s parents called police the night of Jan. 12, 1976 to report her missing after Maurer left a friend’s house alone to buy a soda. She was found dead the next morning near College Road and Maple Avenue in Lisle.
Her murder went unsolved for 44 years “despite an exhaustive investigation by law enforcement,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said Monday in a news conference.
“Today, that mystery has finally been solved,” he said.
Lindahl was 23 at the time of Maurer’s murder, but died five years later while he was in the process of stabbing 18-year-old Charles Huber of Naperville to death, Berlin said. Lindahl stabbed Huber 28 times with a kitchen knife, but accidentally slashed his own leg and bled to death.
After identifying Lindahl as Maurer’s killer, Lisle detectives traveled to her family in Texas to deliver the news.
The family “showed a lot of relief,” Loudon said. “I know [the father] was very thankful that the person responsible for his daughter’s death, at such a young age, was identified.”
The father expected he’d never get closure on his daughter’s murder, Loudon said.
“I think he’s pretty thankful that we didn’t forget Pam,” he said.
Investigators believe Lindahl is responsible for several other murders in the area.
Among Lindahl’s other suspected victims is Deborah McCall, a Downers Grove North student who disappeared in November 1979, Berlin said. She hasn’t been seen since, but police found photos of her in Lindahl’s home after he died.
Berlin said police are trying to identify other women who appear in other photos found in Lindahl’s home.
Lindahl is also suspected of ordering the killing of Debra Colliander, an Aurora woman who accused Lindahl of kidnapping and raping her, Berlin said. Colliander disappeared shortly before she was expected to testify against him, and was found years later in a shallow grave in Oswego Township. Police suspect Lindahl employed his roommate to carry out her killing.
Identifying Lindahl relied on a new type of DNA analysis called investigative genetic genealogy, Berlin said.
He said it’s the first murder to be solved in Illinois using the technique.
Using DNA found on Maurer’s body, investigators used publicly available DNA databases to construct a possible family tree of a suspect and identify relatives of a suspect, Berlin said.
After identifying Lindahl as a suspect, prosecutors got permission in November to exhume Lindahl’s body and test his DNA. Berlin said the tests were a match.
Lisle police are still working on identifying other victims of Lindahl, and have asked the public to come forward with information.