Staten Island 'bishop' arrested for 1980 cold-case murder of Brooklyn teen Lorraine Snell

Chief of the District Attorney's Forensic Science and Cold Case unit, worked closely with the NYPD to utilize enhanced DNA technology.

March 16, 2020

STATEN ISLAND — The mother of a Flatbush murder victim who was just 19 when she was strangled in 1980 sobbed tears of relief Thursday when PIX11 showed her photographic evidence that the long-time person of interest was finally arrested

A 64-year old storefront bishop was arrested Thursday in Staten Island in the murder of legal secretary Lorraine Snell. Bishop James Burrus was taken in cuffs Thursday morning from the Staten Island garage where he lives and holds church services, behind a laundry on Delafield Avenue.

"Oh my God! Thank you, Jesus," Pearl Snell-Holder cried on the stoop of her home. "It's been 39 and a half years; Lorraine got her justice."

Snell was just 19 when she was found strangled on Sept. 25, 1980 in the back seat of a station wagon, behind a supermarket on Newkirk Avenue in Brooklyn.

The mother also thanked PIX11 for sticking with the cold case for the last six years.

"You listened to everything I had to tell you and you stuck with me until today," Snell-Holder told PIX11's Mary Murphy.

Burrus had previously been a prime suspect, but always denied involvement.

"Those cops checked me from head to toe," Burrus told PIX11 in 2014. "They had a guy come in to pick under my nails."

The office of Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez initiated a lengthy re-investigation of the case about five years ago.

Rachel Singer, chief of the District Attorney's Forensic Science and Cold Case unit, worked closely with the NYPD to utilize enhanced DNA technology.

The DA's office noted that because of the re-investigation, "the defendant's DNA was allegedly positively associated to foreign DNA found under the victim's fingernail."

Detective William Simon of the NYPD Cold Case Squad and Detective Michael Gaynor of Brooklyn South Homicide delivered a handcuffed Burrus to the Brooklyn courthouse, where he was arraigned before a judge.

...

SI 'bishop' arrested for 1980 cold-case murder of Brooklyn teen Lorraine Snell

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