PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Police say DNA testing helped them identify and arrest a New Jersey man believed to be responsible for two murders 25 years ago.
On March 17th, 1989, police in Philadelphia were called to 15th and Thompson Street for a “rape in progress.” Upon arrival, they found the body of a female lying on the rear floor of an Oldsmobile inside a lot full of abandoned vehicles. The victim, identified as 19-year-old Ruby Ellis, had been strangled and beaten.
Then, in April of 1989, police were called to a bar on W Girard Avenue for reports of a dead body inside. Upon arrival, police found the bar had been burned-out and vacant for months. Under the stairway leading to the second floor, officers located the decomposing body of a female who had a shoe string tied around her neck and a sock stuffed in her mouth. The victim was identified as 33-year-old Cheryl Hanible. The cause of death was again strangulation.
No arrests were made in either murder.
Nearly 25 years later, a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) search revealed a positive DNA match to 51-year-old Rudolph Churchill, a convicted offender from Georgia. Through an investigation, it was determined the suspect had a residence in New Jersey and obtained a warrant to obtain another DNA sample from the suspect. Based on those results, an arrest was approved for the suspect.
“It’s a great piece of technology that assists us in bringing closure to the families of these victims,” says Philadelphia Police spokesman Lt. John Stanford. “Even though cases are cold, they’re not lost or they’re not forgotten.”
According to police, Churchill was arrested on March 19th, 2014 around 9 a.m. on the 1400 block of Fairmount Avenue without incident.
Churchill has been charged with two counts of Murder and related offenses.