LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — A Pennsylvania man has been charged in the 1975 cold case killing of a 19-year-old woman after DNA on a discarded coffee cup appeared to match DNA left on the victim’s clothing.
Criminal homicide charges were filed against 68-year-old David Sinopoli, of Lancaster, in the murder of Lindy Sue Biechler, of Manor Township, Pennsylvania. Lancaster County Det. Christopher Erb and Manor Township Police Department Det. Sgt. Tricia Mazur filed the charges.
Sinopoli was arrested without incident at his home around 7 a.m. Sunday. He was arraigned and remanded to Lancaster County Prison without bail on charges of first-degree felony criminal homicide.
“Lindy Sue Biechler was 19 when her life was brutally taken away from her 46 years ago in the sanctity of her own home,” Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams said. “This arrest marks the beginning of the criminal process in Lancaster County’s oldest cold case homicide and we hope that it brings some sense of relief to the victim’s loved ones and to community members who for the last 46 years had no answers.”
Biechler’s body was discovered around 8:46 p.m. on the evening of Dec. 5, 1975, by her aunt and uncle.
Investigators observed blood on the outside of the front door as well as on the wall on the entranceway and several patches of blood on the carpet of Beichler’s home. Biechler had returned home from the grocery store between 6:45 p.m. and 7:05 p.m., and grocery bags from John Herr’s market sat on the dining room table.
Investigators found Biechler lying on her back with a knife sticking out of her neck. The knife, which had a tea towel wrapped around the wooden handle, matched the knives stored in Biechler’s knife block in her kitchen. Investigators also noted signs of a struggle inside the apartment.
Biechler had 19 stab wounds to her neck, chest, upper abdomen and back. The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office ruled the cause of death as massive bleeding due to multiple stab wounds and the manner of death as a homicide.
Detectives from Manor Township Police Department, with assistance from the Pennsylvania State Police, conducted an in-depth investigation into the homicide and followed multiple leads over the years clearing dozens of people. The investigation spanned decades with evidence being sent to multiple laboratories as well as interviews of multiple subjects.
“I want to thank members of the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office and Sgt. Mazur for their hard work and persistence in pursuing justice in this case,” said Chief Todd Graeff, of the Manor Township Police Department. “Additionally, I thank all the Officers, Detectives, Troopers, and forensics personnel that have worked on this case over the past 46 years. Their hard work through the years has paid off and hopefully, this arrest brings some relief to Lindy Sue Biechler’s family and the public.”
In 1997, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office submitted evidence from the crime scene for DNA analysis. As a result, a male DNA profile was obtained from the right-side area of Biechler’s underwear and was determined to contain semen. In 2000, this DNA profile was submitted to CODIS, a nationwide database that contains DNA profiles of individuals convicted of certain crimes.
In January 2019, with the agreement of the Manor Township Police Department, the case was taken on by Lancaster County District Attorney’s Cold Case Unit. In June 2019, the unit enlisted the help of Parabon NanoLabs to analyze DNA in the case. In September 2019, investigators released composites, also called phenotypes, provided by Parabon based on DNA evidence left at the crime scene. These composites revealed characteristics of the suspect, including skin tone, eye color, and hair color.
Parabon’s genetic genealogy research ultimately identified Sinopoli through his Italian ancestry as a possible person of interest.
On Feb. 11, 2022, investigators surreptitiously obtained DNA from Sinopoli from a coffee cup he had used and thrown into a trash can at the Philadelphia International Airport. The coffee cup was submitted to DNA Labs International for testing and in April 2022, it was determined that the DNA on the coffee cup contained a mixture of DNA with one male contributor.
The electronic data files from DNA Labs International were then forwarded to Cybergenetics, a Pittsburgh laboratory that specializes in separating DNA mixtures. Cybergenetics’ computer analysis concluded that the DNA on Sinopoli’s coffee cup and DNA identified in the semen on Biechler’s underwear were a possible match.
Detectives then consulted with a blood spatter expert to determine if any blood left behind on Biechler’s clothing would be consistent with having been left behind by the suspect. The expert identified two blood spots on the exposed part of the victim’s pantyhose, which were also sent to DNA Labs. In June 2022, the blood drops were determined to be consistent with the DNA profile obtained from Biechler’s underwear.
“There has been a never-ending pursuit of justice in this case that has led us to identifying and arresting Sinopoli,” Adams said. “Lindy Sue Biechler was on the minds of many throughout the years. Certainly, law enforcement never forgot about Lindy Sue, and this arrest marks the first step to obtaining justice for her and holding her killer responsible.”
Anyone with information on this case or who had familiarity with David Sinopoli during the December 1975 timeframe is asked to contact Lancaster County Det. Christopher Erb at 717-299-8100.