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.