Police crack 30 year old cold case

March 20, 2008 9:17:55 PM PDT
30 years after a woman was murdered in Northampton County, police say they have cracked the case."Emotional. I just keep thinking about how scared she must have been. It's just coming all back," Marilyn Belmonte, Virginia's sister, said.

Marilyn Belmonte shed tears that have dampened her spirit for decades as she talked about police arresting a suspect in her sister's 30-year-old murder.

"Just elated. A little shocked, but elated that after all this time they finally found him. I'm really happy," Marilyn said.

It was November 1, 1978 when 21-year-old Virginia Morrell was found beaten, bound, raped and strangled in her Ann Street apartment in Easton, Pennsylvania. No one was arrested for her murder.

"Personally this is the most brutal homicide case I've been part of as an investigator," Detective Daniel Reagan of the Easton Police said.

During an annual review of cold cases, Detective Reagan had some physical evidence from the original crime scene compared to DNA collected from convicted felons and sex offenders.

"We received confirmation within the last week that, in fact, the DNA on victim's green nightgown matched the DNA sample from Robert White," Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said.

Then, 20-year-old Robert White lived across the hall from the victim. According to police records, he is a registered sexually violent predator in his native Virginia.

White's convictions include attempted rape in Pennsylvania committed 16 days after the Easton rape he's now charged with, attempted rape in Graterfords prison, and two abduction rapes 4 years in Virginia.

White's DNA was collected when released from prison.

Police used today's technology to link his DNA to a crime that occurred a generation before the technology was developed.

"I'm just happy that they found him and they'll going to hopefully get this man off the street and that he won't hurt anybody else," Marilyn said.