One Of The Oldest Homicide Cases In Pennsylvania Might Have Been Solved With A Coffee Cup

In July 2022, law enforcement officials in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, announced that they had cracked open a cold case murder investigation that had been left unanswered since 1975. According to NPR, the murder of Lindy Sue Biechler was the oldest cold case murder in Lancaster County, perhaps best known for its rolling hills dotted with farms in the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country. Ever since Biechler was stabbed to death in her own home at just 19 years old, investigators chased down every lead that came their way, but to no avail.

That is until forensic technology progressed to the point that they were able to catch a major break. "This case was solved with the use of DNA and specifically DNA genealogy and quite honestly without that, I don't know that we would have ever solved it," Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said (via NPR). The DNA evidence led to the arrest of 68-year-old David Sinopoli, who was charged with Biechler's murder. What was it that led to his arrest nearly 50 years after the crime was committed? A simple cup of coffee.

The Murder

On December 5, 1975, Lindy Sue Biechler's aunt and uncle dropped by their niece's apartment in Manor Township, Pennsylvania. Biecher lived in the Spring Manor Apartment complex with her husband. Her aunt and uncle wanted to exchange some recipes with her, but instead, they were met with a horrific, grisly scene. According to NPR, Biechler was found with 19 stab wounds to her neck, back, and chest and had also sustained defensive wounds indicating that she had attempted to fight off her attacker.

In Biechler's kitchen, police found a footprint that appeared to have been left by a man (via FOX43). In the days that followed, police asked the public for information related to the case and learned that on the night of the murder, a dark-colored car was double parked outside the apartment complex with its headlights on. Less than a week after her death, Biechler's husband was cleared as a suspect. Unfortunately, any leads police received in the years that followed led nowhere. Additional murders occurred and were solved, but the culprits in those cases were deemed to have had nothing to do with Biechler's death.

The case was solved thanks to a coffee cup

According to NPR, at the time of the crime, evidence was collected that contained DNA. This was fortunate because DNA technology hadn't yet hit the scene. More recently, DNA databases typically used for genealogical purposes have helped to solve crimes. The murder of Lindy Sue Biechler is one of them.

Investigators received a tip that pointed them toward David Sinopoli. Before that point, he hadn't come up in the investigation, but upon realizing that he had once lived in the same apartment complex as Biechler, they narrowed in on him. Sinopoli continued to live in the Lancaster area in the decades after the murder. Investigators placed him under surveillance and managed to get a DNA sample when he threw away a coffee cup before boarding a plane at Philadelphia International Airport. The DNA recovered from the coffee cup was compared to some found at the crime scene in 1975.

"This has been a never-ending pursuit of justice for Lindy Sue Biechler that has led us to identifying and arresting David Sinopoli," District Attorney Heather Adams said (via NPR). "Lindy Sue Biechler was on the minds of many throughout the years. Certainly law enforcement has never forgotten about her. And this arrest marks the first step in obtaining justice for Lindy Sue Biechler and holding her killer responsible."