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Cold Case: New technology could lead to answers in double homicide

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Nov 13 2012 05:19:01 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 13 2012 09:59:06 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Monday night NBC Montana brought you an exclusive look at a cold case that Missoula County detectives are taking another look at.

We told you how a Washington state couple was murdered at a Seeley Lake area campground in the summer of 1991. Now new technology could lead to new answers and possible suspects.

Larue Cheetham's glasses and one of her earrings are some of what’s left in evidence 21 years after a murderer killed Larue and her husband Kenneth.

Detectives know one gun killed both, but they don't know who. There are still suspects -- the same ones from the very beginning -- but there’s never been enough information to charge anyone with murder.

“This was a horrible crime, a double homicide in our community,” said Missoula County Detective Sergeant T.J. McDermott. McDermott has taken over the case.

Detectives gathered over 50 pieces of evidence from the crime scene. It’s all been bagged and boxed, and left in storage in the county's evidence warehouse. But now detectives are reopening some it, hoping a fresh look and better technology can to answers.

“There's a lot of information there, a lot of material to go over,” said McDermott.

Back in 1991, detectives lifted fingerprints and DNA samples from the crime scene, that they hope could now pay off. Detectives are working with computer databases they say can link the clues.

“We're now able to submit fingerprints for comparison into a computer, rather than having an examiner,” McDermott said.

But technology isn't the only thing that's changed in the decades since this double homicide. Whoever killed the Cheethams has likely changed too.

“A lot of people that were interviewed and talked to, some people that were cleared as suspects other people that weren't,” McDermott said. “And with the amount of time that's gone by and relationships change, family situations change.”

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office hasn't given up. Neither has the Cheetham family. News detectives are giving the case another look sparked emails and Facebook comments from family members desperate for answers.

“We want to bring justice to the Cheetham family,” said McDermott.

And perhaps that justice is hiding someplace in the pieces of what was left behind 21 years ago.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department at (406) 258-4810. To provide information anonymously about the case call the Crimestoppers number at (406) 721-4444.