But with the help of DNA taken from a coffee cup earlier this year, investigators were able to charge a Pennsylvania man with the 1975 stabbing of the 19-year-old woman.
Biechler’s aunt and uncle found her dead in her apartment on Dec. 5, 1975, with 19 stab wounds, lying on her back with a knife sticking out of her neck and a towel wrapped around the wooden handle, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office said. in a news release.
She had just returned from grocery shopping, investigators said, and bags from the market had been left on the dining room table.
Over the years, detectives from the Manor Township Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police conducted homicide investigations, following numerous leads and clearing dozens of people, the district attorney’s office said. Evidence was sent to several labs and interviews were completed with multiple suspects, prosecutors said.
Sinopoli was arrested at his home Sunday without incident, was booked and is being held in the Lancaster County Jail without bond, police said.
CNN has reached out to the Lancaster County public defender’s office, which is representing Sinopoli.
“This arrest marks the beginning of a criminal trial in Lancaster County’s oldest unsolved homicide case, and we hope it brings some relief to the victim’s loved ones and community members who have not had answers for the past 46 years.” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said in a news release.
DNA evidence from a coffee cup
In 1997, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office said it submitted evidence from the crime scene for DNA analysis and a male DNA profile was extracted from Bichler’s underwear.
In January 2019, the investigation gained new momentum after it was taken over by the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Cold Case Unit, which enlisted the help of Parabon NanoLabs months later to analyze DNA obtained in the case.
Sinopoli was identified as a possible person of interest, CeCe Moore, a researcher at Parabon NanoLabs, said at a news conference Monday.
Because there were no individual genetic matches to the suspect’s DNA, Moore had to try a “new, unconventional” route to narrow down the potential suspect, she said. Given Sinopoli’s Italian ancestry, Moore studied geographic and immigration patterns, as well as related surnames, and determined that the person linked to the DNA sample had ties to Gasperina, a town in the Calabria region of southern Italy.
“There were very few people living in Lancaster at the time of the crime who were of the right age, gender and had a family tree consistent with this background, so this allowed me to prioritize applicants whose background was determined to be exclusively from families with origins in Gasperina,” Moore said.
Sinopoli and Bichler lived in the same four-unit building at the apartment complex at one point, Adams said during a news conference Monday, but did not specify when. Other than being neighbors, Adams did not elaborate on how the pair might have been related.
Investigators closely monitored Sinopoli through surveillance, and on Feb. 11, “investigators surreptitiously obtained DNA from Sinopoli from a coffee cup he used and threw into a trash can before traveling to Philadelphia International Airport,” the district attorney’s office said.
“There was a relentless pursuit of justice in this case that led us to the identification and arrest of Sinopoli,” Adams said. “Lindy Sue Bichler has been on the minds of many over the years.”
“Of course, law enforcement has never forgotten Lindy Sue, and this arrest marks the first step toward getting justice for her and holding her killer accountable,” Adams added.