The Tragic 1975 Murder Of Lindy Sue Biechler Explained

It seems like a golden age of DNA testing as technology continues to advance in the 2010s and 2020s. Numerous cold cases from the 1970s and 1980s have been solved in recent years thanks to DNA testing methods that weren't available at the times of the murders, giving the families of victims some long-overdue closure and putting criminals in jail (via CBS News). And now, yet another killer is now behind bars after 46 years of searching. Lindy Sue Biechler's murderer has been caught after investigators solved the oldest cold case in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, reports The Daily Beast.

The New York Times reports that Lindy Sue Biechler was a 19-year-old living in an apartment complex in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On December 5, 1975, she worked a shift at her job at a flower shop, then picked up her husband's paycheck for him at his place of employment. Biechler deposited the check, then went grocery shopping before returning to her apartment that evening. Her aunt and uncle stopped at the apartment for a visit, per NPR. But instead of swapping recipes, they discovered that their niece was dead from a horrific knife attack. She had been stabbed all over her body — her neck, back, and chest all had stab wounds, and it was clear that she had been fighting off her attacker.

The long search for Biechler's killer

The Washington Post reports that Lindy Sue Biechler had seemingly just arrived home when she was attacked because her groceries were still on her dining room table. People reports that when her aunt and uncle found her, Biechler had a knife protruding from her neck, wrapped in a tea towel. The killer had used two knives in the attack, covering the entrance to the house with blood. According to PennLive, the murderer sexually assaulted Biechler after she was already dead.

Her family was devastated, and there were no leads, reports FOX43. Police interviewed 100 people in the first five days after her death and cleared Biechler's husband and family members of wrongdoing. They would go on to interview between 250 to 300 people in the following years, but their investigation remained cold for decades. In 1976, Biechler's tombstone was spray painted red and scratched up, and the next month, the alleged killer sent a note to police, but they couldn't determine if the letter was legitimate or fake.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Catching a killer with a coffee cup

The circumstances all changed in 2018, according to FOX43. Even decades after his wife's death, Philip D. Biechler heard about DNA methodologies being used to convict Raymond "DJ Freez" Rowe in a 1992 killing and thought the same could be applied to Lindy Sue Biechler's case. In 2019, police used this method to test DNA from Biechler's crime scene and created an image of what the killer potentially looked like. They created drawings of the killer at 25 and 65 years old. 

People reports that by using the composite sketch, along with the DNA evidence and a family tree, investigators were able to pinpoint a suspect: David Sinopoli. They ruled out about 2,300 other people with similar genetic information in Lancaster County, leaving Sinopoli as the prime suspect. According to The Washington Post, the methods police used to catch the killer sound like something from a crime drama. As David Sinopoli and his wife waited at the Philadelphia International Airport to catch a flight, they sipped cups of coffee together. Police were watching Sinopoli closely, and when he threw out his coffee cup, they grabbed the trash and obtained DNA from the discarded cup. 

People reports that they were able to match the coffee cup DNA with DNA from semen on Biechler's underwear, confirming that Sinopoli was at the scene of the crime. Elsewhere, there were two dots of blood on her stockings, which also matched Sinopoli's DNA.

Justice after more than four decades

People reports that David Sinopoli hadn't been on the investigator's radar until the DNA evidence emerged. However, Sinopoli had been living in the same apartment building as Lindy Sue Biechler at the time of her death. Police wanted to be completely confident that the DNA really did belong to the now-68-year-old, which was why they snatched Sinopoli's trash at the airport.

About 18 years ago, according to PennLive, Sinopoli was given a year-long probation after he was caught spying on a naked woman at a hair salon run by his wife. Sinopoli was the sole employee there at the time, and he spied on the woman while she was getting a tan. He had no other criminal records, and his co-workers described him as a seemingly average person.

According to The Washington Post, Lindy Sue Biechler's family members said they had been praying for justice for decades. FOX43 reports that Sinopoli is now in police custody, without bail, as he awaits his trial.