Nebraska man charged with killing Utah woman in 1982

(Photo courtesy of the Salt Lake City Police Department) Bryan Harry Reed has been arrested in connection with the 1982 killing of a Salt Lake woman.

A Nebraska man has been charged in connection with a homicide 37 years ago in Salt Lake City.

Bryan Harry Reed, now 55, confessed that he killed 72-year-old Wilhelmina Reid, whose body was found Aug. 18, 1982, in her Salt Lake City apartment, according to Salt Lake City police.

He was charged Friday with first-degree felony counts of murder and aggravated burglary.

“These are cases that we want to get solved," said Police Chief Mike Brown in a news release after Reed’s arrest earlier this month. “Cold cases are just as important to our detectives as are current cases, and we are constantly reviewing them. If we have leads, we exhaust them.”

Salt Lake City police used “new technology in forensics" in 2015 “to process evidence from the crime scene and located DNA from an unknown male," according to the release. The results of those tests came back in 2017, and the suspects listed in the 1982 case were “excluded as contributors," according to an arrest warrant.

In December 2018, an investigator for the South Sioux City, Neb., police department collected a DNA sample from Reed. In March 2019, a laboratory concluded that Reed “is a possible contributor” to a DNA sample obtained from Reid’s nightgown. And Salt Lake police said they matched a fingerprint found at the scene to Reed, who initially claimed he had never been in Reid’s home.

SLCPD detectives interviewed Reed in Nebraska earlier this month. According to the arrest warrant, “Reid admitted to breaking into Wilhelmina’s residence through a window, finding her in her bedroom, and striking her head multiple times with a small baseball bat.”

Reed, then 17, lived with his mother across the street from the victim, according to the arrest warrant. Reed’s mother told police in 1982 that Reid came to her house every morning for coffee — and that the victim “had a lot of jewelry, including a large diamond ring" that was “worth a lot of money.”

Also in 1982, the suspect’s mother told police he left Utah for Nebraska on the day of the murder, adding that she had purchased his plane ticket before Reid was killed.

“The implication of being able to solve these cases is immense," Brown said. “Both for the victim’s family and for the community to know that a killer has been caught.”

Reed was being held at the Dakota County jail in Nebraska pending extradition.

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