20 Sep 2019 4:10pm
A significant DNA breakthrough has led to the arrest today of a man in Victoria in connection with the murder of an Adelaide woman in 1993.
The stabbing murder of mother-of-two Suzanne Poll (pictured) at her place of work in Salisbury in April 1993 has remained an open, unsolved case for 26 years despite extensive work by the SA Police.
In recent years the inquiry has been reviewed as part of the Major Crime Investigation Branch’s cold case campaign called Operation Persist, with investigators continuing to ‘chip away’ at lines of inquiry.
Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of Major Crime, announced today that as part of that ongoing work, experts at Forensic Science South Australia (FSSA) had been able to provide police with a familial DNA link from evidence recovered at the scene of the murder.
“It was late night shopping at the adjacent Parabanks Shopping Centre on Thursday 29 April 1993, when a man went into the business where Mrs Poll was working and fatally stabbed her,” he said.
“Police recovered DNA believed to be from the offender at that scene, but despite data base searches and it being checked against hundreds of people no match has been found by police.
“A recent familial link led to further inquiries in recent weeks with confirmation of the DNA match yesterday leading to today’s arrest of a man in Ballarat.”
A 46-year-old man from Ballarat has been arrested by Victorian Police on a warrant for murder that was issued in South Australia earlier today.
SA Police detectives, who are travelling to Ballarat in the morning, are expected to make further inquiries over the weekend and apply for the man’s extradition on Monday.
Detective Superintendent Bray said Mrs Poll’s family had been advised of the development today.
“This was a case which shocked the community and despite the best efforts of police had not resulted in a breakthrough until this week,” he said.
“This arrest breakthrough has to led to the formation of a Task Force that will, in effect, undertake a completely new investigation in relation to this matter.
“This has come about due to hard work and dedication by the investigators and the team with FSSA.
“We believe this crime most likely started as a robbery, but don’t understand why is escalated into the murder of a completely innocent woman.”
Mrs Poll was counting the takings at the Sands & McDougall Shop in John Street, Salisbury when a man entered the business about closing time at 9pm.
She was attacked, tried to flee to a back room at the premises and was stabbed to death.
Operation Persist In Summary
* led by the Major Crime Investigation Branch, Operation Persist has used a range of tactics in order to progress long-term murder cases since it was launched in 2015.
* tactics have included the full case reviews of unsolved murders, rewards being offered in connection with those – both for a conviction, but also for the recovery of remains where a body has not been located – a strategic media campaign, the identification of new forensic opportunities, the distribution of information about unsolved matters within prison populations and the back capture of DNA
* 111 cold cases with Major Crime which relate to 124 individuals
* arrests have been made in connection with nine murders since Operation Persist began
* seven cases are before the courts, with two murders (those of Dale McCauley and Jayson Doelz) resolved, leading to the imprisonment of offenders
* hundreds of reports have been made to Crime Stoppers as a result of the operation