More than 46 years ago, Lindy Sue Biechier suffered 19 stab wounds and died due to her injuries.
The lack of evidence at the crime scene gave police little to go on, and decades went by without an arrest.
In the 1990s, investigators revisited the case and submitted DNA from semen that was discovered on Biechler’s underwear to CODIS, the national law enforcement DNA database. However, no match was ever found.
In 2020, CeCe Moore, a former ABC News contributor and chief genetic genealogist at Parabon NanoLabs, started working on the case. Moore used the DNA to trace the genealogy of the unknown suspect’s family.
This was the same methodology that was used in 2018 to find the Golden State Killer. Genetic genealogy uses the DNA left at a crime scene and is identified by using family members who voluntarily submit DNA samples to the investigator’s database.
However, it wasn’t easy. When Moore started working on the case, she was upset when she could only find a very distant relative to the unknown suspect.
“Usually I’m able to identify common ancestors. But because the common ancestors between the matches and the suspect in this case were probably back in the 1700s [or] 1600s, I wasn’t able to approach it the way that I do most cases,” Moore told ABC News.
“It was really tugging at me, so I decided to develop a new approach,” she said. “There was a very clear migration pattern from a town in southern Italy called Gasperina, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.”
Moore’s investigation led her to a local Italian club, and she used membership cards to narrow her search.
“Those membership cards listed when people were born. Because I knew that this suspect had roots in this small town Gasperina, I went through all of those cards and found the people who had immigrated from Gasperina to Lancaster,” Moore said.
“About half are gonna be female. A certain percentage are gonna be too old or too young. I knew this person had to be fully Italian from Gasperina or close by,” Moore said.
“I worked through each and every one of those families that had migrated from that very specific town,” she said. “It was really only possible because of this very unique [membership card] record collection that Lancaster had.”
After comparing the membership cards with Ellis Island records, she narrowed her search to 68-year-old David Sinopoli. In February 2022, investigators surveilled Sinopoli and grabbed a coffee cup he threw away while at the Philadelphia International Airport. The lab confirmed the DNA on Sinopoli’s coffee cup matched the DNA found from the semen on Biecher’s underwear.
“There has been a never-ending pursuit of justice in this case that has led us to identifying and arresting Sinopoli,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said. “Certainly, law enforcement never forgot about Lindy Sue, and this arrest marks the first step to obtaining justice for her and holding her killer responsible.”