|Birth: ||Sep. 10, 1920, USA|
|Death: ||Jul. 26, 1989|
Posted: May 13, 2010 4:17 PM
Updated: May 24, 2010 6:06 PM
DNA leads police to 1989 murder suspect
Emily Longnecker/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - The trail on a murder case that had gone cold for several years has finally heated up so much so that investigators say they know who killed a 68-year-old woman more than 20 years ago.
Mary Dillehay was found raped and beaten to death in the 1000 block of East Elm Street on July 26, 1989. For 21 years, the answer to who raped and murdered the 68-year-old woman in her Fountain Square Home eluded police and tormented her family.
"For a long time, we wanted to know, were they ever going to solve it," said Ernie Dillehay, the victim's nephew.
Ernie Dillehay's father went to his grave never knowing who killed his younger sister or why.
"He talked about it until the day he died," said Dillehay.
Now because they retested DNA found at the crime scene, investigators say they have the man responsible for Dillehay's murder: 53-year-old Danny Saintignon.
"It's thanks to the DNA database that we were able to make the match," said Det. Sgt. Mark Albert, IMPD Cold Case Homicide.
Police received a federal grant four years ago to re-check DNA from cold cases like Dillehay's against the DNA of Indiana prison inmates.
"It wasn't until we got back the DNA match that his name popped up," said Albert.
Investigators found Saintignon had been behind bars since 1991 serving a 65-year sentence for molesting his 21-month-old daughter so severely that she died.
"She was injured internally and died," said Albert.
A year earlier, police believe Saintignon raped and murdered Dillehay, a woman he never knew.
"This is the type of case you know that people always fear. That outta the blue, it could happen anywhere, at anytime, to anybody," Albert said.
Saintignon's only connection to Dillehay was that he had once lived in that same house, but moved before Dillehay ever lived there.
Neighbors say a lot on Elm Street's changed in 21 years, including the house where Dillehay died. The original was torn down years ago and a new one was built. But the talk and questions surrounding Dillehay's murder never went away.
"I always thought it was somebody around here, but nobody ever found out about it," said Jerry Hammock, neighbor.
Now, nearly 21 years later, police have a face for someone who up until now hid a dark secret.
"I'm just grateful they found who done it," said Dillehay.
Mary Dillehay's family has found a small sense of closure and peace after years of thinking they never would.
Created by: Penny Brand Beaman
Record added: Oct 12, 2011
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