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Salt Lake City cops close 1976 cold case slaying

Dead suspect » Man suspected in crime died in 2012, witness who may have implicated him also dead.

First Published Feb 06 2014 01:50 pm • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 12:29 am

Salt Lake City police detectives, citing the death of the likely perpetrator, have closed a "cold case" investigation into the 1976 slaying of Charles R. Collings.

Detective Cody Lougy said Thursday that homicide investigators recently conducted an internal review of the case. They unanimously opted to close the case in the wake of the 2012 death of their prime suspect, Steven Coombs.

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Collings, 50, was found strangled to death in a field at 454 W. 200 South on Aug. 23, 1976. Recently, detectives revisited the unsolved homicide using current DNA screening techniques.

While no suitable DNA evidence was uncovered, in the process of reviewing the case, investigators determined they did have sufficient probable cause to implicate Coombs.

Some of that probable cause evidence, detectives judged, came from statements made by a witness, Wilford Murphy. Murphy, who died in 1992, provided the unspecified information during questioning in the months after Collings’ remains were found.

While mum on the details of Murphy’s comments, SLCPD detectives would say they deemed them "consistent with evidence and truthful."

Investigators believe Coombs was responsible for Collings death to a sufficient measure that they will not screen the case with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, the SLCPD statement read.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims


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