COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Police have exhumed the remains of an Albany woman hoping to solve her cold case murder dating back to 1959. NEWS10’s Anya Tucker spoke with an investigator who is now trying to identify the woman’s killer.
The trail went cold after December 1959, when police had identified a body found along Sand Creek Road in Colonie as 18-year-old Ruth Whitman from the neighboring city of Albany. The medical examiner determined that she died of asphyxiation, having drowned in a nearby drainage ditch. Whitman’s face was beaten, and she had suffered a blow to the back of her head. The examiner also determined that she was four to six weeks pregnant.
When the physical evidence in the case was accidentally lost during a move, it grew even colder. Enter Colonie Police Sgt. John Santorio, who knew that the old reports described blood and human hair recovered from beneath Whitman’s fingernails.
“That would indicate that she put up a struggle with her killer,” Santorio said. “Likely, that tissue belonged to the person who murdered her.”
But with the physical evidence lost, DNA testing to try and identify Ruth’s killer was useless. Or was it? Santorio applied for a grant with Season Of Justice, a non-profit that helps law enforcement agencies cover the cost of DNA testing. Now, they plan to exhume the remains, as first reported by Spotlight News.
Santorio secured the grant, and with the permission of Whitman’s family, they exhumed her remains on Monday, August 1. “We were able to recover the fingernails that we were looking for initially which appeared to be with viable tissue,” added Santorio.
Colonie Police expect the results to return in 16 to 24 weeks—roughly sometime around December. Stick with NEWS10 for updates, and we will let you know what they find.
Ruth’s former boyfriend, now 83, was initially eliminated as her killer by police in 1958. He has offered his own DNA for testing.
One possible suspect eyed by police is the notorious serial killer Robert Garrow, who just happened to live a few doors down from Whitman when she was killed. He survived a manhunt, but was later killed by officers in 1978 after escaping from prison. Police believe that the DNA of his relatives could be used to eliminate or establish him as the killer.
Santorio also credits the College of Saint Rose’s Cold Case Analysis Center for helping them examine and organize many old case files as well as interviewing witnesses from the past.