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Touch DNA solves another case!

Touch DNA leads to arrest in decades-old cold case murder of North Whitehall Township widow

May 16th, 2024

WHITEHALL TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- An arrest has been made in a decades-old cold case, thanks to the advancement of "touch DNA" technology, as well as the fact that the evidence collected back in '89 was meticulously preserved.

"Touch DNA can be left behind on surfaces or objects such as doorknobs, window latches, or steering wheels," according to the National Institue of Justice.

Now, 35 years after the stabbing death of 78-year-old Rose Hnath at her home in North Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania, a man has been arrested for her murder.

"Michael Breisch was taken into custody within the last two or three days in the state of Ohio," Lehigh County District Attorney Gavin Halihan said during a press conference Thursday.

Breisch was taken into custody in Coshocton County, Ohio, and is now being charged with homicide and burglary.

"You don't get a free pass on murder," Halihan said.

Breisch was 30 years old in 1989 when Hnath's home was ransacked and the widow was murdered. It would be another 33 years of dogged detective work, aided by advances in technology, which ultimately led to this arrest.

Authorities say they were able to get a match on DNA collected more than three decades ago.

"Some weapons that we believe was used in the crime: a knife that was used [and] a pellet gun that was used. The remarkable thing about it, there was no concept of the use of touch DNA at the time and yet they were preserved," Halihan said.

At the time of the robbery and murder, Breisch was supposed to be housed in Allentown at a community corrections facility. However, court documents show he was arrested and charged with escape 10 days after Hnath's murder.

For the family, more than three decades of waiting finally comes to an end.

"You think to yourself, 'I wonder if there's ever going to be justice for Aunt Rose?'" said Joanie Szivos, the victim's grand-niece.

She married Hnath's grand-nephew. She says Rose's unsolved murder has troubled the family all this time.

"I'm just relieved that she finally has justice," said Szivos. "And I hope my mother-in-law can rest in peace now because it haunted her until the day she died."

The now 65-year-old Breisch has since been extradited and being held at the Lehigh County jail without bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 21.

Ammo Theft

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