Detroit authorities use old DNA evidence to convict felon in 1999 murder
A unique glove and DNA match helped lead to a conviction in a slaying of an 84-year-old woman
DETROIT — A unique glove and a DNA match helped lead to a conviction in the 1999 slaying of an 84-year-old woman whose body was found in an alley behind a church on Detroit's west side, authorities said.
Helen Klocek left a restaurant March 2, 1999, near her apartment in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth Township. She was found beaten and killed about 17 miles away and the case later turned cold, but evidence later led to charges against a four-time convicted felon.
A report in the Detroit Free Press details the case that led to Nosakhare Onumonu being convicted of first-degree murder and felony murder. The 38-year-old man is scheduled to be sentenced Friday to the mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"He steadfastly maintains his innocence," Onumonu's attorney, Mark Procida, told the newspaper.
Klocek, a widow, was the mother of two, a grandmother and a great grandmother. Her car, car keys and purse were missing and the car was later found abandoned at another church. A fire set on the driver's side charred the seat and steering wheel, and a blue and gray Kevlar glove was found in the backseat.
Samples from the glove were sent to a lab for DNA testing in 2008, because technology had improved by then, authorities said. Nearly three years later, in 2011, there was a match to Onumonu, who was incarcerated but hadn't previously been connected to the death.
Onumonu told authorities that he worked for PDC Glass in Plymouth in 1999, court records show. Police learned that workers at the company, which has since changed ownership, used gloves like the one found in Klocek's car to handle sheets of glass at the time.
"We knew we had a really unique glove," said Detroit police Detective Bruce Christnagel, who became involved with the case in 2011.
Onumonu, who was later granted parole after his earlier cases, was set to be released in February 2012, the Michigan Department of Corrections said. Murder charges were filed against Onumonu for Klocek's death in November 2011, however, and his parole was suspended.
Onumonu's attorney argued it wasn't his client who killed the elderly woman and questioned a witness account. Procida said he thinks there was "sufficient reasonable doubt based on the circumstantial nature of the case" and said his client will appeal.
"Does the fact that his DNA was on the glove make him a murderer when the car is found days later three and a half miles from the body?" Procida said.
Klocek's family, however, felt relief and elation at the verdict.
"We know that meant he would be in prison and couldn't hurt anyone else again," said Klocek's daughter, Barbara.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press