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Bellevue Police Arrest Sexual Predator in 1980 Murder of Susan Lowe

Bellevue Police tied Michael Allan Halgren at McNeil Island to the 1980 murder of Susan Barbara Lowe after his DNA profile was included in an update.

OUTSIDE SEATTLE, WA -- Local police identified and arrested a 56-year-old man in connection with the April 23, 1980 rape and murder of a 19 year-old woman.

According to charging papers filed by the Bellevue Police Department, Susan Barbara Lowe was discovered strangled in her apartment at 2501 148th Ave SE, then known as the Quorum Apartments, now known as the Carrington Apartments the morning after she died.

Michael Allan Halgren, who was 23-years-old at the time of the murder, grew up at his parents' home in on 151st Avemue SE in Bellevue, three blocks away from Lowe's apartment, according to Bellevue Police Det. Jerry Johnson's statement in the court papers.

Halgren, a resident of McNeil Island's Special Commitment Center, was identified last year via DNA obtained from sperm found at the scene in 1980.

Halgren had not been identified as a suspect until the DNA match made last year, said Bellevue Police Department spokeswoman Officer Carla Iafrate.

The case went cold in the 1980s after all investigative leads were exhausted, but Bellevue detectives continued to investigate the case on and off for the next three decades, she said. 

The case had been assigned to the Bellevue Police Department's Violent Crime's unit, which investigates cold cases as evidence comes in, she said.

"The detectives who initially worked on the case have retired," Iafrate said.

According to Johnson's statement, the DNA evidence filed into the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab database in 2001 hit a match with Halgren in 2012, when the database was updated to include civilly committed sexually violent predators at the McNeil Island Special Commitment Center.

Lowe was last seen alive around 7 p.m. April 23, 1980, when she told her roommate that she planned to stay in and watch the Seattle Supersonics game on television, according to the court documents. Around 10 p.m. that night -- while "Charlie's Angels" was on TV -- Lowe's neighbors heard a knock at Lowe's door, then a banging noise as if something hit a wall, running sounds and a muffled scream, but did not act on what they heard, according to the charging papers.

Lowe's roommate discovered her the next morning, positioned and covered in her bed, in what investigators said was an attempt to make her look like she was asleep, according the court papers.

Halgren had been civilly committed at McNeil Island after a history of past sexual related convictions, according to the press release. Halgren’s criminal history included a conviction in the 1989 kidnapping and rape of a woman in Bellevue, and other sexual related crimes in Seattle.

Bellevue detectives interviewed Halgren in connection with the case last year. According to Johnson's statement in court papers, Halgren told detectives that in 1980, he worked at the Boeing plant in Bellevue on Kamber Road, and he told detectives that after work he would either go home to Fall City, go to his fiancee's apartment in Bellevue or buy marijuana from a dealer who lived across the street from the Quorum Apartments.

According to court papers, Halgren said he didn't know Lowe and disputed the validity of the DNA match.

Lowe's roommate, who was re-interviewed, said she never heard Halgren's name come up or recognize his photo.

The King County Prosecutor’s Cold Case Unit filed a charge of Murder in the First Degree Wednesday against Halgren.

Bellevue detectives arrested Halgren Wednesday at McNeil Island, and he was transferred to King County Jail on a no-bail bond, according to the press release.

“It’s always rewarding to solve any case, but especially a cold case. To assist in some way the long awaited closure for family members of their loved one, is gratifying for not only the family members but for all us at the Department,” said Detective Lieutenant Jim Hershey.

According to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office, if Halgren is convicted as charged, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison. Arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 23 in the King County Courthouse.

Bellevue Patch will update this story as it receives more information.

Greg Johnston January 23, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Jeff, and others who have commented, look for a story later today on the arraignment of the suspect. -Greg
Pamela February 02, 2013 at 07:38 PM
After his 1989 conviction for kidnapping and rape was he ever released from prison? It is because of these habitual offenders that I keep a gun in my house. My personal belief is once a sexual predator - always a sexual predator that escalates to murder. They need to be locked away for life without parole.
Donna Hughes February 02, 2013 at 09:50 PM
Make sure you post it to your facebook if you have one because maybe if not you maybe someone else may be able to identify some of the people in the picture so that the detectives can have the help they need. I do not know how the members of this bowling team could be witnesses being that neither of them bowled on that team. I do hope they get what they need. I am happy for every cold case that gets solved. I do believe that it is because the wonderful advance in forensics since then. I watch ID channel and sometimes will look up the people on the shows to see if there were updates on them or something and was reading that even back in the late 70's they did not have the DNA matching like they have today. I still say that when babies are born they should take fingerprints and put them in a national database that God forbid they come up missing or dead or are something happens and they find fingerprints they will have a name and a match and a place to start because as it stands now if a person has no record they are out of luck as to knowing who they are.
Craig Parthemer February 06, 2013 at 04:16 AM
OneBillionRising.org...please visit I love and miss you so profoundly Sue and will RISE for you on 2-14-13. Jon
Craig Parthemer February 06, 2013 at 04:32 AM
For you Roosevelt folk, previous post was from "Joni Meyer" as you would know me. Now Joni Parthemer. Sue's funeral was a start for me; I still work on all that comes with losing one's best friend under these circumstances. Please, please consider RISING up in honor of a mission to stop violence of any kind...particularly against women...we have approx. 7 billion folks on our planet/half are women and 1/3 of those experience violence...if you're reading this, you clearly know I lost my best friend to rape and murder. I AM RISING (www.onebillionrising.org)

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