May 11, 2018
A DNA match led to an arrest Tuesday in a 16-year-old Athens murder case.
Pamela Crisler, a 49-year-old mental health and substance abuse counselor, was found dead Aug. 21, 2002, in her home at College Place Apartments off West Broad Street. The complex is now called University Oaks.
Crisler's death was ruled a homicide, but no progress was made in identifying a suspect until late last year, police said.
In November, Athens-Clarke police detectives received new information identifying Abdus Salaam Laroche, 34, of Decatur, as a suspect.
Shortly after the murder, DNA collected at the crime scene was entered into the Combined DNA Index System, a national DNA database. When Laroche was arrested last year on a different matter, the arresting agency ran his DNA through the CODIS system and received a hit for the Crisler case, said Epifanio Rodriguez, public information officer for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.
Rodriguez did not immediately know where Laroche was arrested and for what offense.
"As a result (of the DNA match) detectives from ACCPD have been actively investigating this case for the past six months with the assistance of the DeKalb County Probation Office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI," police said in a news release.
Detectives on Tuesday secured a murder warrant for Laroche, who was taken into custody without incident.
Capt. Jerry Saulters, commanding officer of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department's Criminal Investigations Division, called Laroche's arrest highly significant because "it gives answers and closure for the family of Ms. Crisler and the community."
"Our detectives both past and present are committed to solving violent crimes," Saulters said. "We continue to review and follow up on leads in all of our cold case investigations. The break and arrest in this case gives us hope with other cold case investigations."
Laroche was being transported late Tuesday from Clayton County to the Clarke County Jail, Rodriguez said.
Police asked that anyone with information concerning this case contact Sgt. David Norris at (706) 613-3888, ext. 556.
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