FORT WORTH — More than 26 years ago, a school custodian picking up trash around North Hi Mount Elementary School discovered the nearly nude body of a 23-year-old medical student in an alcove outside the near west side school.
The young woman — identified the next day as Kathryn Munroe — had been raped and strangled less than 100 yards from her Monticello duplex and about 1 1/2 miles from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she was doing research for a professor before starting her sophomore year.
Munroe's slaying terrified area joggers, although Fort Worth police said she had not been jogging, even though jogging shorts were found near her body.
Authorities ruled out links to other slayings and other known killers, including the infamous Henry Lee Lucas, who confessed to killing dozens of women before most of his stories were disproved.
Munroe's killing on Aug. 19, 1982, remained unsolved until 2007 when DNA from a Florida prison inmate was linked to semen preserved from Munroe's body. Tarrant County prosecutors indicted the man, Lucky Lamon Odom, in Munroe’s rape-murder shortly before Odom finished serving his Florida sentence for burglary and trafficking stolen property.
Odom, 52, went on trial Wednesday in 297th District Court, where prosecutors Bob Gill and Taylor Ferguson are trying to convince a Tarrant County jury that Odom strangled Munroe with his bare hands while raping her on the school playground.
If convicted of capital murder, he will be sentenced to life in prison because prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. Under the law as it was in 1982, Odom would be eligible for parole after 20 years.
Some witnesses from the 1982 investigation are no longer available. The custodian who found Munroe’s body has died. The officer he flagged down is hospitalized.
But retired crime scene officers Tommy Reed and Tommy Stone used 27-year-old notes to recap their investigation for the jury. They set the stage for the forensic experts who testified about the DNA match that prosecutors say is the key evidence of Odom’s guilt.
In 2003, samples of Munroe’s blood, vaginal swabs and a piece of her panties were sent to a Dallas DNA lab as part of a federally funded initiative to start a nationwide DNA data bank, a police scientist testified.
Four years later, Fort Worth cold case Detective Manny Reyes was notified that the samples from Munroe’s body had similarities to the DNA of a Florida prison inmate. Reyes flew to Florida to get a sample of Odom’s saliva.
Dallas DNA analyst Matthew Cortero compared the samples, and he testified Wednesday that there is 1 chance in 53.76 quadrillion that the sperm inside Munroe’s body belonged to someone other than Odom. The world population is 6.5 billion, he said.
Read the full story at star-telegram.com