David Sinopoli sat in an airport cafeteria with his wife and another couple before dawn on a February morning, passing the time as they waited for their early morning flight.
Unbeknownst to the 68-year-old Pennsylvania man, detectives were watching. And after he tossed a coffee cup into a dumpster in Terminal A at Philadelphia International Airport, they scrambled to retrieve it.
For nearly five decades, the The murder of Lindy Sue Biechler, 19, a newlywed found stabbed to death on the floor of her apartment in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, had stumped authorities. They chased down dozens of leads, interviewed up to 300 people, launched a task force, presented the case to crime experts, and even, as years went by with no answers, tried consulting psychics.
What ultimately led to an arrest in the county’s oldest cold case was the discarded coffee cup and genetic genealogy. Investigators zeroed in on Sinopoli after a researcher with Reston, Virginia-based Parabon NanoLabs determined through DNA testing that whoever killed Biechler likely had ancestors from a small Italian town called Gasperina. The researcher, CeCe Moore, flagged Sinopoli as a person of interest after poring over newspaper archives and historical records.
After the detectives’ stealth mission at the airport, DNA from the coffee cup was compared to DNA found on Biechler’s underwear. It was a coincidence, Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said. Authorities made their long-awaited arrest Sunday morning; Sinopoli, a longtime resident of the apartment complex in which Biechler lived, was arrested and held without bail.
“This case was resolved with the use of DNA and, specifically, DNA genealogy”Adams said during a news conference on Monday. “Y, Honestly, without that, I don’t know if we would have figured it out.”.
He added: “The reality is that David Sinopoli it wasn’t on our radar”.
The gruesome murder occurred on the night of December 5, 1975, a Friday. Biechler’s aunt and uncle had stopped by his Manor Township apartment to exchange recipes. But when they arrived at the building, they found what Adams said “can only be described as a horrifying scene.” Biechler lay on the living room floor, his jeans unbuttoned and his body covered in 19 stab wounds.
Grocery bags were on the dining room table. The young wife was unloading them when her attacker arrived, police said.
She fiercely fought for her life. But Biechler, a florist worker described by her husband Phil as “extremely compassionate” and “incredibly charming,” was pronounced dead at the scene.
From the beginning, police said, there were few leads.
“Actually, we don’t have anything right now,” Manor Township Police Chief Donald W. Sheeler said the day Biechler was buried, according to the report. intelligence diary.
Authorities acquitted the suspects, reviewed a chilling letter from someone claiming to be the killer, pleaded with the public for help and investigated leads before the case was frozen. They then reviewed the case in subsequent years, submitting evidence for DNA analysis in 1997 and entering it into a national database in 2000.
That year, a task force that included the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit investigated the case, according to reports. Lancaster New Age. The group said the killer was likely a man who knew Biechler and committed the crime in a fit of rage. Five years later, a group of crime experts called Vidocq Society decided to review the case.
“I have prayed every night for 30 years for justice for his death,” Biechler’s mother, Eleanor Geesey, told lancaster online. “My God, maybe it will come.”
However, it would be years before DNA genealogy, a new technique that became widespread with the 2018 arrest of the “Golden State Killer,” opened the case and led to the arrest of Sinopoli. Moore said Monday that his research into the killer’s genealogy pointed to Sinopoli as “an especially compelling candidate to be the suspect.”
“There were very few people living in Lancaster who were the correct age, sex and family tree,” he said.
None of the advice that came to law enforcement over the years pointed to Sinopoli, Adams said. She said she lived in the same four-unit building the victim lived in at one point in 1974. But she declined to provide any other details about whether they knew each other or discuss a possible motive.
Few details were immediately available about Sinopoli or his life before or after the brutal murder. A freelancer at a commercial printing company, he was a hunter whose Facebook page featured him hunting and vacationing in Italy, reported LNP. He married his first wife the year before Biechler’s death; they had two children before divorcing in 1986, according to that outlet. In 1987 he married his second wife, with whom he had another son.
In 2004, it was sentenced to one year probation after pleading guilty invasion of privacy and disturbance of public order. He had admitted to spying on a woman who was naked in a tanning room in a business where he worked, according to LNP.
That appeared to be his only criminal arrest in Lancaster County prior to Sunday. He now faces a murder charge..
“Lindy Sue Biechler was 19 years old when her life was brutally taken 46 years ago in the sanctity of her own home,” Adams said. “The arrest of David Sinopoli marks the beginning of the judicial process. And we hope it brings some sense of relief to the victim’s loved ones and the community, who for the past 46 years have had no answers.”