November 16, 2016
Louisville Metro police solve two cold cases -- a murder and a sex crime -- thanks to DNA evidence. Police credit a cold case grant from the federal government for helping them solve both crimes.
Although Nadine Uphold, the mother of the murder victim, Debra Wright, is glad, she also tells FOX 41 she had warned her daughter something bad was going to happen to her. In fact, just a few weeks before the murder, the victim herself told her mother she had a bad feeling she would not be around for much longer.
Uphold finds comfort knowing her daughter's suspected killer has been caught. Brian Sturgeon was already in custody in South Carolina, awaiting trial on a different murder.
"I'm glad they caught him. I'll be glad when they convict him 'cause now I think she can rest in peace," Uphold said. "I know I can. I know I can."
A roommate found Wright, 30, dead in her Portland apartment, located above a bar back in 1995. Wright's mother says the killer hit her daughter with a screwdriver, knew where Wrigth kept her money, and stole it: "She always took really good care of her nails. And when they found her, her nails were all broken, and there was blood and skin tissue," Uphold said.
Detectives say the DNA from her body matched the DNA of Sturgeon. They were able to spend the time needed to investigate the case, thanks to a federal grant.
"Say we got a hit off this and we don't have the money to pay detectives to follow up on it, it would eventually get worked, but it might be some time," LMPD Maj. Joe Richardson said.
Neighbors we talked to thought someone else was the killer: "It was really a horrible, horrible killing, but you know, like I said, trouble had been brewing down there because of the bar 'cause two days or three days before that, someone got their throat cut down there. There was blood all over the sidewalk," Mary Allen, who lives just three houses down from Wright's former apartment, said.
"She had a sadness to her, like she was expecting something to happen to her," Uphold said of Wright. Uphold says her daughter was HIV positive and a cocaine addict with two elementary-age children at the time. "I hate to say this, but whoever did it probably did her a favor 'cause I worked with AIDS patients and I know what they go through. But it gave nobody that right to kill her."
Police also have solved a 2007 sexual abuse case. A woman said while she was a patient at Norton Audubon Hospital, a hospital security guard fondled her and masturbated on her, while she was restrained and completely defenseless. Police have arrested John Thompson, 22, in Corydon, Indiana. They say his DNA matched the evidence at the crime scene.