DNA helps identify killer 30 years after Florida woman found strangled to death

A woman’s cold case murder has been solved after 30 years, owing to a breakthrough that led to a man believed to be her killer, authorities said. The woman, Roslin Kruse, was just 23 at the time of her death, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which handled her case in Florida.

Kruse was last seen alive on Nov. 1, 1993, in Tampa, the sheriff’s office said in a news release Friday. She was found dead that same day on the shoulder of a road in Gibsonton, which is about 10 miles south of the city center. A subsequent autopsy determined her cause of death was strangulation.

Despite identifying her, authorities did not solve Kruse’s case until recently, when DNA profiling allowed them to match a sample taken from her body to the child of her suspected killer, who died more than a decade ago. The Hillsborough sheriff said authorities are “confident” that Michael Rizzo was responsible for Kruse’s death.

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Roslin Kruse was found dead on the roadside in Gibsonton, Florida, in November 1993.HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

The initial investigation into her killing briefly involved Rizzo, as detectives found that Kruse had entered a vehicle “with an unknown individual” prior to her body being found on the roadway. The sheriff’s office said investigators ultimately traced the vehicle to a residence on Mike Drive in Tampa — where Kruse was last seen alive — and knew Kruse and the unknown person had entered the property. Although “this observation raised suspicions,” the sheriff’s office noted that “no immediate proof of a crime was found.”

Rizzo lived less than half a mile from the spot on the roadside where Kruse’s body was discovered, and the early investigation showed that he had picked her up on the day of the killing. Rizzo claimed to have dropped her off alive and denied involvement in Kruse’s death. And even though a polygraph exam taken at the time “indicated deception in his responses,” conflicting information from Rizzo’s wife and girlfriend at the time “further complicated the investigation,” according to the sheriff.

Authorities collected and stored forensic evidence related to the case, including an unknown DNA sample taken from Kruse’s body at the time, which did not yield any matches until November 2021. At the time, investigators collected a DNA swab from Rizzo’s biological daughter, which matched the DNA profile taken from Kruse’s body. Detective’s with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office met with Kruse’s relatives after determining the discovery “provided a pivotal lead in the case.”

“This investigation demonstrates the commitment of our cold case investigators to bring justice to victims and their families, no matter how much time has passed,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to Ms. Kruse’s family, and we hope the resolution of this case can provide them with some closure.”

Rizzo died on March 1, 2011, in Orange County, Florida, according to the sheriff. Kruse’s case is now officially closed.

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