MINNEAPOLIS – An Isanti hockey dad convicted in a brutal cold-case murder will be sentenced in court Friday morning.
We’re getting a look at the evidence that led the jury to find Jerry Westrom guilty in the 1993 murder of Jeanie Childs in Minneapolis.
The jury foreperson told WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle about the three things that made a lasting impact on jurors.
The evidence offers the first look inside the gruesome crime scene. The Minneapolis apartment where Westrom murdered Childs decades ago, stabbing her 65 times.
“He would’ve had to chase her around the apartment, stabbing her multiple times, over and over again. He really wanted her to die,” jury foreperson Derek Fradenburgh said.
Connecting Westrom to the murder started with a hit on a genealogy website, linking his DNA to DNA collected in 1993 at the crime scene.
“It’s a story, it’s fascinating,” Fradenburgh said.
But investigators needed more, so they tracked him to a hockey game in Wisconsin. They watched and waited for Westrom to throw a napkin away in a cardboard tray to collect his DNA.
“Listening to that testimony in court, it’s incredibly gripping stuff. For that to be the thing that brought him down I guess is really just incredible,” Fradenburg said.
Investigators used that match to arrest Westrom and to build their case. His DNA was found on a comforter, a bloody bathroom towel, a washcloth, a T-shirt and in the sink. And then there’s the bloody footprint.
“Even the most charitable reading is that one of the footprints was for sure his,” Fradenburg said.
He says there’s no way to explain away the footprint. It confirmed Westrom’s guilt for the jury.
“It’s not a shoe impression or anything like that. It’s his bare footprint, and our feet have the same sort of ridges and whirls and everything that our palms and fingers do,” Fradernburgh said.
Prosecutors then played Westrom’s 2019 interview with police. Here’s an expert where he denied knowing Childs and what happened inside the Minneapolis apartment. It’s the only time jurors heard from Westrom while on trial.
“Does this look familiar to you at all? Have you ever been in those buildings?” the investigator asked.
“Not that I remember. No,” Westrom answered.
“Now this was a long time ago, you sure on those answers?” police said.
“I, I, I haven’t, yeah, I am,” Westrom said.
“He’s just a guy who didn’t have a whole lot to say, but what he had to say, I know they were lies,” Fradenburgh said.
Mayerle asked, “Is that what it boiled down to was the police interview, the DNA and the bloody footprint?”
“Yeah, those three things,” Fradenburgh said. “He said he wasn’t there, his DNA proves that he was there … his footprint puts him there at the time of the murder.”
He says he feels for Childs’ family, saying no one deserves to die that way.
“That’s why it matters that this came up 30 years later. It was so brutal, it’s so graphic, you can’t just let this go,” Fradenburgh said.
He says all this evidence resulted in a guilty verdict reached by the jury in two hours.
Westrom will be sentenced Friday at 8:30 a.m. WCCO will have a camera in the courtroom.
Source: CBS Minnesota