Cherry Hills Village woman murder suspect goes on trial 40 years after her death | Content reserved for subscribers

Prosecutors say that although it took 40 years to identify the man accused of killing a young woman in his Cherry Hills Village home in 1981, his name was the only missing piece from the start, as he left his DNA behind him.

David Dwayne Anderson, now 63, is on trial for first degree premeditated murder and felony murder in Arapahoe County. Authorities arrested him in February 2021 after tracking him to Cozad, Nebraska.

“Even 40 years ago we knew who did this. We just didn’t know his name,” Assistant District Attorney Grant Grosgebauer said during opening arguments Monday.

Anderson’s trial is scheduled until March 8.

Sylvia Quayle’s father found her dead in his home in Cherry Hills Village, where she lived alone, on the morning of August 4, 1981. Quayle, 34, had been shot, repeatedly stabbed and sexually assaulted, according to a report autopsy.

The coroner ruled that the stab wounds were the cause of Quayle’s death, with the gunshot listed as a secondary cause.

Blood and signs of struggle covered Quayle’s house. The telephone lines inside and outside the house had been cut.

His sister spoke to him around 11 p.m. on August 3 and was the last person to speak to Quayle, prosecutors said.

Quayle’s sister is still alive, but both of her parents are deceased.

But Anderson’s defense attorneys say investigators have all along ignored the most obvious suspect in Quayle’s murder – an abusive boyfriend who had savagely beaten and raped her years earlier in the same way as ‘She had been assaulted the night she died, and a man Quayle herself said her family would be the culprit if anything happened to her.

But when a relative of Quayle told Cherry Hills police that Quayle’s boyfriend, Pete Romaine, might have been responsible, they didn’t consider him a suspect, defense attorneys argued. ‘Anderson. They didn’t watch it until about 12 years later.

This is despite the discovery of Romaine’s DNA on a knife at the scene of Quayle’s death, Anderson’s lawyers said.

“They missed the most obvious suspect,” one said in opening statements.

Quayle and Romaine had dated for a few years and started seeing each other several months before Quayle’s murder.

The prosecutors’ case relies heavily on forensic evidence, given that there were no direct witnesses who saw or heard the attack.

Man charged with first degree murder in 1981 death of Sylvia Quayle

At first, investigators found themselves in a dead end after deadlock, interviewing people who knew Quayle but were getting nowhere. Periodic hiatuses from the case over the decades, fueled by evolving DNA testing capabilities, have punctuated its mostly cold trail.

Evidence from the scene of Quayle’s murder had been preserved. Her attacker had left semen on her and a DNA profile from the evidence was developed in 2000. The development of more DNA evidence from the same person collected from multiple sources followed in 2012.

The Cherry Hills Village Police Department opened the investigation in January 2020 into United Data Connect, a company that uses DNA to solve cold cases.

United Data Connect sequenced a sample from the crime scene and then identified people related to the person who left DNA at the scene.

Anderson’s arrest affidavit indicates that a United Data Connect investigator traveled to Cozad in January 2021 to attempt to collect Anderson’s DNA. From Anderson’s trash, a DNA profile was eventually developed from a Vanilla Coke can, which matched evidence found at the crime scene.

Anderson agreed to an interview, Grosgebauer said, and claimed he did not know Quayle or how his DNA ended up at the scene of his death.

But the investigation stalled for about a decade when another man, Ottis Toole, said in 1983 that he had killed Quayle. He was already being held on different murder charges when he was charged in Quayle’s death, but never stood trial for that case.

He and another man claimed to have killed hundreds of people in the United States in the 1980s and were convicted for six. But DNA testing ruled out Toole as Quayle’s killer in 1993, and the case was reopened.

Anderson’s defense attorneys clung to the delay, saying investigators “got caught hook, line and sinker” by his false confession.

They said the case was not as simple as prosecutors would portray, saying the evidence pointed to a targeted attack on Quayle by someone known to her.

“We’re asking you to ask the questions the government hasn’t asked for the past 40 years,” one said. “Listen to Sylvia Quayle.”

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